North Hertfordshire housing deadlock revealed with less than 45 per cent of required homes built since 2016

NHDC say the shortfalls are an inevitable consequence of delays to the Local Plan. Picture: Tom Coat

NHDC say the shortfalls are an inevitable consequence of delays to the Local Plan. Picture: Tom Coates / NHDC - Credit: Archant

Less than 45 per cent of the homes required for North Hertfordshire have been built since 2016, the latest government figures have revealed.

The district council fell short of its 2,395 target between 2016 and 2019, building 1,042 homes in that period - including just 222 homes in 2018/19 devoid of an initial estimate of 988.

The Housing Delivery Test - published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government last month - reveals the extent of the housing logjam in North Hertfordshire, as the Local Plan continues to be modified.

The Local Plan pledges to deliver nearly 15,000 new homes between 2011 and 2031, but has undergone a number of delays since initally examined by government inspectors in November 2017.

The plan includes 900 new homes north of the Grange estate in Letchworth - which has not yet received planning permission - and approximately 2,800 homes at land north of Baldock, known as the BA1 development.

Councillor Paul Clark, NHDC's executive member for planning and transport, said the council will continue to receive 'low scores' from the Housing Delivery Test 'until any new Plan is adopted.'

In a supply paper published in January, the council said that 'the extent of the present Green Belt across the District limits the amount of development that can be brought forward.'

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Cllr Clark added: 'These Green Belt boundaries have not been reviewed for over a quarter of a century. The Council cannot significantly improve its Housing Delivery Test results until the outcomes of the current examination are known.'

Cllr Clark said that development has 'proceeded on a number of suitable sites which have delivered new homes for residents,' while a number of sites the Council 'considers inappropriate have been refused'.

Based on the assumption that the revised Local Plan will be adopted later this year, the council is aiming to deliver approximately 3,300 homes in the five-year period from April 2019 to March 2024, and in excess of 4,000 homes from April 2020 to March 2025.

Further hearing sessions will take place this month at the Icknield Centre in Letchworth Garden City, beginning on March 16.

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