“At the CPPP meeting on 17th November and the Cabinet Meeting on 19th November 2020, Members discussed a site called PB1 in Potters Bar for “allocation for safeguarding” for between 600 and 700 homes on the basis that the proposed dwellings on PB1 would be counted towards the Council’s Objectively Assessed Housing Need at 13,800.
Paragraphs 19 and 34 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 require the Council to have regard to national policies and advice contained in guidance issued by the Secretary of State. For the purposes of the WHBC Local Plan, the prime source of that guidance and advice is in the National Planning Policy Framework 2012.
Paragraph 85 of the NPPF states: “Where necessary, identify areas of ‘safeguarded land’ between the urban area and the Green Belt, in order to meet longer-term development needs well beyond the plan period.” and “Make clear that safeguarded land is not allocated for development at the present time…”
There has been no public consultation for 600-700 dwellings on PB1 and no assessment whatsoever by the Council Officers for that number of dwellings on PB1. In fact, the Officer Report to CPPP on 23rd and 29th January 2020 stated:
“For Potters Bar, no sites passed Stages 1 and 2 of the site selection process and therefore no sites have been considered further…”
In view of the fact that (1) PB1 cannot be counted towards the delivery of the Objectively Assessed Need, (2) there has been no assessment by the Council of PB1 for 600 or more dwellings and (3) there has been no public consultation or recommendation from the planning officers, it would be unlawful for WHBC to allocate PB1 as contributing any dwellings, at all, to the present Objectively Assessed Housing Need.
Subject to the necessary due diligence, detailed assessment and future public consultation, WHBC is at liberty to ask the Inspector to reserve PB1 as ‘safeguarded land’, but it is not permitted to count 600 or 700 homes on PB1 towards its Objectively Assessed Housing Need.
The Inspector has made clear that he requires the Council to allocate sufficient housing sites to meet the FOAHN in full and also to meet its five-year land supply.
The lawful duty upon this Council is to meet its FOAHN by allocating suitable and sustainable sites which are distributed fairly and objectively in the most sustainable locations throughout the borough.
Would the Chairman please confirm whether, or not, the Council intends to allocate PB1 as safeguarded land for 600 – 700 dwellings as part of the Council’s FOAHN or does it accept that PB1 cannot be counted towards its FOAHN?”
The question was answered by Councillor S.Boulton (Executive Member, Environment and Planning) :-
“The purpose of safeguarded land is to make provision for longer term needs. The recommendation of CPPP and Cabinet is that it should be identified as safeguarded land for longer term needs. Should it be needed before the end of the plan period it could be identified for early release as part of a review of the plan. It has not been included in the 13,277 homes figure identified by CPPP and Cabinet as comprising completions commitments, windfall development and allocations.”