Challenge to housing plans

Coun Trevor Fiddler
Coun Trevor Fiddler
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Plans to set in stone the proposed number of houses required in rural Fylde are set to be reconsidered after a council revolt.

Coun Trevor Fiddler, Fylde Council’s portfolio holder for planning and development, says is he is “very much restricted” in accepting the estimate proposed by an assessment which says between 300 and 420 houses will need to be built within the authority’s boundaries each year.

However the decision has been challenged by Coun Liz Oades, who believes thee figures proposed by the Fylde coast strategic house market assessment (SHMA) will see green fields needlessly lost, with the support of 13 other councillors.

The issue will now be discussed by the authority’s policy development scrutiny committee on Monday, where they could opt to have the decision reviewed by the full council.

Explaining her reasoning behind calling the decision into review, coun Oades told The Gazette: “The number of dwellings being proposed is too high which I believe will result in more and more green fields disappearing.

“It’s not a surprise to me that this number has been chosen, this government is hell bent on house building.

“I understand what they’re doing for the south and south east but I don’t believe the north west of England and our area has the demand for what the Government expect us to build, and the Government needs to realise its policy doesn’t fit all.

“My worry is that we’re going to be building houses that are never going to be needed.”

The findings of the SHMA are set to be used as evidence to form the council’s Local Plan, which will set out its policy on development for the next 15 to 20 years.

However, Independent Coun Oades made the call in request along with the other councillors as they believe the decision is “not in the interests of the residents of the borough”.

Members of the policy development scrutiny committee can opt either to call the decision in and ask the portfolio holder to reconsider it, call the decision in and ask full council to consider it, or take no further action and allow the decision to stand.

Coun Fiddler said: “Liz understands planning.

“She is very experienced and she is trying to say that the SHMA exercise overestimates the number of houses Fylde needs to 2030.

“It’s a very important subject fundamental to the Local Plan because the most contentious part of the Local Plan is allocating the number of houses.”

The SHMA uses figures from the Office of National Statistics and the 2011 Census to reach its estimates.

Coun Fiddler, who represents the Conservative Party, added: “Predicting the future is not easy but the Government has a growth agenda and if we don’t promote a growth agenda within the Local Plan then we find ourselves in the situation where the local Planning Inspector will throw it out and say ‘try again’.

“I sympathise with her position, if I had the freedom to identify housing numbers using a common sense approach I would gladly take it, but we are very much restricted.”

The meeting will take place at St Annes Town Hall on Monday at 6.15pm.