Council defends plan for 27,000 new homes by 2035

The council’s draft Local Plan sets out a goal to see an average of 1,810 new homes built in the borough each year for the next fifteen years
By Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor

Stock image (credit: Pixabay)
Stock image (credit: Pixabay)

Waltham Forest Council’s ambition to see 27,000 new homes built in the borough by 2035 is based on “objectively assessed need”, councillors heard last night.

The council’s draft Local Plan sets out a goal to see an average of 1,810 new homes built in the borough each year for the next fifteen years. 

This is around 600 homes higher than the target set by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for the next decade, which calls for 1,264 new homes a year.

Earlier this year, the government’s planning inspectors refused to approve the Local Plan,  citing questions about the council’s decision to exceed this target. 

At a full council meeting last night, co-deputy leader and cabinet member for housing Ahsan Khan said national planning policy “requires” the council to go “as far as possible” building new homes.

He said: “[We] have a wealth of evidence to show that this is deliverable, sustainable and would meet all wider policy criteria and council objectives – including protecting and enhancing the borough’s valuable open space assets and unique character.”

Cllr Ahsan said Waltham Forest already has a “healthy pipeline” of 8,000 homes with planning permission or due to be granted permission, four in ten of which are classed as “affordable”.

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This includes 1,300 homes for social rent or London affordable rent, which are considered low cost, and 1,800 for shared ownership or rent at about 80% of market rates.

Cllr Khan also said a three-year average of the council’s housing delivery shows that it exceeded the Mayor of London’s target by 8%. Under the government’s new homes bonus, Waltham Forest has received an average of £3.3million each year for the past ten years.

Earlier this year, the council confirmed it has a strategy of “growing [the council’s] tax base”, by attracting new residents and businesses. It is hoped that this extra income will manage “demographic pressures and further planned reductions in government funding”.

The council’s target of 27,000 homes by 2035 must be signed off by the government’s planning inspectors, who seek to ensure large developments are appropriate for their suggested locations.

In the draft local plan submitted last year, the council argued that there is “limited space available” in the borough so development should make “the most efficient use of land and buildings”.

However, after a public examination of the plan in June, inspectors said they had “significant concerns” about tall buildings, flood risks, air quality, the impact of more visitors to Epping Forest and shrinking industrial capacity at Blackhorse Lane.

Further scrutiny of the local plan will continue in public hearings in March 2023.

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