David Gawthorpe, deputy team leader, development plans team, explained that his team was responsible for writing the council’s planning policies. At present the council had two adopted planning policies: the core strategy and the development management local plan. All planning authorities were required to publish a monitoring report on the operation of their planning policies at least annually. The monitoring report included key indicators, and covered areas such as sustainability, performance against benchmarks, the adoption of neighbourhood plans and thee duty to cooperate with neighbouring planning authorities.
Mr Gawthorpe explained that the council had a target of 1031 new homes per year. The number of homes completed in 2014-15 was 1147, which exceeded the target, and although it was 8 less than 2013-4 it was significantly higher than the 422 homes completed in 2012-13. The number of homes given planning permission in 2014-15 was 4774, which was a significant drop on the 6563 approved in 2013-14, however, this figure was inflated because of the massive nature of the Earl’s Court scheme which had been approved in that year.
Only 11 percent of the units approved, and 18 percent of those completed, were classed as affordable, compared to a target of 40 percent. These figures had been reduced by developers making use of viability assessments which allowed them not to provide affordable housing. 68 percent of permitted conversions created flats with two or more bedrooms, which provided the borough with more family sized accommodation.
The employment rate had increased to 77 percent, whilst the number of working age people on out of work benefits had fallen from 2.5 percent to just 1.8 percent.
Environmental indicators were good, with the amount of carbon dioxide generated per capita falling from 5.6 tonnes in 2013-14 to 5.4 tonnes in 2014-15. On site renewable energy generation continued to be included in applications. Usage of private transport, such as cars and motorbikes, had fallen over the year, whilst the proportion of trips made by public transport had increased.
Councillor Dewhirst asked when planning permission had been granted for the homes counted in the figures for 2014-15, as he recognised that some of the schemes had been submitted well before April 2014. David Gawthorpe explained that the date used was the date the decision notice was issued, which might be much later than the Planning and Development Control Committee meeting which gave approval for the development as S.106 agreements were debated before a decision was issued.
A resident asked whether the council knew if the family sized homes being built were being bought and lived in by families. David Gawthorpe said that this was not monitored; he explained that the Mayor of London’s definition for family sized homes was used as the basis for the indicator. He confirmed that HMOs would not be counted as family sized accommodation.
Councillor Harcourt noted the good work the borough was doing to promote cycling and asked whether the shift towards cycling was monitored in the report. David Gawthorpe agreed to look into this.