Agenda item

Leader's Question Time

To receive any pre-notified questions addressed to the Leader / Member of the Cabinet / Committee Chairman.


(The maximum time allowed for Leader’s question time is 40 minutes.)



Question from M. Rollings to the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Mrs. K. Randolph




‘In 2016 the starting point number of new homes (9,450) for this Borough covered a twenty-year period: 2015 – 2035, resulting in an annual figure of 474. In the 2019 consultation, although the total need was similar, the starting point for the annual number of new homes for this Council is 623. Can the Portfolio Holder please explain why this figure is so much higher than it was in the 2016/17 Strategic Options consultation?’




Response given by Mrs. K. Randolph




Although the Government used similar figures, the basis of the calculation was very different.  The first number that was mentioned was based on the Strategic Housing Market Assessment that was required at the time by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2012 and the total was 9,480 dwellings and covered the period 2015-2035. That gave us an annual target of 474.  The second, but similar figure of 9,345 dwellings is calculated using standard methodology. However, this figure is for a 15-year period only, so based on the annual requirement of 623 dwellings, over a 20-year period to compare it with the previous one, the total requirement would be 12,460 dwellings, so we’re talking about an increase from 9,480 to 12,460.  This significant increase in the starting point for the Council’s housing target is a result of changes made to Government policy; namely the introduction of the Standard Methodology that was introduced through the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on 24 July 2018 and replaced the SHMA figure.   


Prior to 2018, the NPPF (2012) required Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to base their housing target on their own Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAHN) for the Borough. The standard methodology uses a formula to identify the minimum number of homes expected to be planned for in a way in which the Government considers will address expected household growth, historic under supply and affordability.  The figure is to be kept under review and should be revised when the input figures change.  However, many of us are aware and consider that the most recent Government calculation can no longer be considered to be objectively assessed as, at the end of last year, one of the inputs used in producing the objectively assessed numbers changed, but the Government nevertheless insisted on retaining the higher figure.  Our Administration responded to the planning for the ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places consultation’ and the consultation on the draft revised NPPF, objecting to the proposed standard methodology and raising concerns as to the failure of the Government’s proposal to give any regard to the constraints that would prohibit the Council from meeting the target, including for example, Green Belt and Infrastructure.   




Supplementary Question from C. James




Could the Portfolio Holder tell us whether the Administration at the time made any direct representations to Government Ministers about the impact of the policies on the people of Elmbridge and the character of our Borough, and what assurances our Parliamentary representatives were able to give us?




Response given by Mrs. K. Randolph




As many Members here will be aware, but I appreciate we have a number of new Members now, yes, there were a number of representations made by Councillor Selleck to the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid MP, Phillip Hammond MP and to Dominic Raab MP, our MPs and also, in January 2018, when our MP was Housing Minister, Councillor Stuart Selleck wrote to him, having seen a reply to a local resident regarding the Green Belt and particularly about the housing need that we are particularly being required to consider.  If I may, I’d just like to read out the last paragraph of that particular letter.  ‘I am pleased to note that in your letter to a local resident in November 2017, you stated that you questioned the methodology that went into the housing targets and urged the Government to consider a better, more equitable spread of development in the South East’.  That was what our MP wrote in 2017.  Perhaps it won’t surprise you to know that the letter that went out in January 2018 did not get a reply from our MP who was by then the Housing Minister.  This is just to represent that there has actually been very active correspondence from this Council to the Ministers involved and to our MPs to try and persuade them that the standard methodology, in addition to the objections we made at the time of the consultation, is inappropriate in our view for this particular area. 




Question from A. Kelly to the Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, Mrs. J.R. Turner




‘At the Cabinet meeting of 9 January, it was agreed that a site options appraisal for a replacement Playhouse would be presented to Cabinet in June. It has yet to reach Cabinet, nor does it appear on the Forward Plan. Can the Cabinet Member explain the reasons for the delay and a likely timetable?’




Response given by Mrs. J.R. Turner




This has been a long time coming, I completely agree, but because of the Local Plan, there has been a lot of work going on and part of this procedure is part of planning as well.  So, work has been in progress and we have 12 options.  This will be coming to the Member Reference Group just after Christmas when the Reference Group sits and when they’ve done the work on that and looked at all those sites, then it will come back and we can drill down and get on with it.