The authority intends to prepare an evidence-based case that demonstrates the real housing needs of the Island.
The move comes in direct response to comments and concerns raised by residents in respect to housing numbers contained in the draft Island Planning Strategy – or Local Plan. Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely has also been fighting for a reconsideration of the target and has held a number of meetings with residents across the Island.
Using a new common formula set down by government for councils to “objectively assess housing need”, the plan proposed an annual housing target for the Island of 641 homes.
Council leader Dave Stewart said the authority had listened to Islanders’ concerns and would now seek to put forward its own calculation based on fact, rather than a formula. As part of that, he said he would work closely with Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely to argue the Island’s unique circumstances and what could realistically be achieved in terms of housing delivery.
But he warned:
“We can’t just say to the minister we don’t want any houses on the Isle of Wight.
“We have over 2,500 people on our housing register, including people in temporary accommodation, so I don’t accept the argument we do not need houses. I do accept the point that we need the right homes in the right places.
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“We must provide homes that meet the needs of the Island; housing of all types and tenures including more affordable housing.”
Councillor Stewart said the authority would gather evidence in several ways, including engaging with town and parish councils and the Isle of Wight Association of Local Councils (IWALC), to establish local housing needs information to inform the council’s approach.
Housing is just one element of the Local Plan which sets the approach to planning for the Island up to 2035.
MP Bob Seely has welcomed the news…Bob said:
“I’m pleased that the IW Council is listening to residents’ concerns that the Island cannot cope with this level of new housing.
“Members of the IW Council have clearly heard residents’ concerns and are now responding. This is good news. We need to work together to tackle the Government on these targets.
“I’m glad that the IW Council has announced that the Local Plan will be redrafted and will be subject to further consultation before it is agreed.
“I encourage Islanders to engage in that consultation when it’s launched in March to make their views known.
“No one is arguing that we don’t need new housing. What the Island is saying is that it has to be primarily for Islanders, young and old, and it needs to be in appropriate numbers, in existing communities near existing services, not on unsustainable green field sites.
“I will work with the Council to develop an evidence-based plan. I very much hope to have the chance to discuss this with Councillors soon.”
The current draft document, which was published for public consultation in 2018, will be redrafted and be subject to further engagement and consultation before replacing the ‘Core Strategy’ which has been in place since 2012.
The council’s planning team is still working through all the comments received during the initial consultation phase to produce a further version of the plan in the new year.
A further consultation will be launched in March 2020.