A Neighbourhood Plan is about development. There is sometimes a perception that a Neighbourhood Plan is a tool for stopping, or preventing, development but that is not the case. A Neighbourhood Plan is about encouraging development that is appropriate, that meets the needs of the community, that is sustainable, that fits with the look of existing housing, that is environmentally sound, that is in the right place. There is little point in building a whole host of limestone cottages if the actual need is for large family homes in an area where the existing housing is predominantly brick. There is no point in building starter homes if what is needed is retirement homes. Development must be appropriate and meet the local need.
A really important element of developing a Neighbourhood Plan is completing a housing needs assessment. This will inform the plan as to what kind of housing is needed and where. In order to complete a housing needs assessment, a strong evidence base must be collated. There are a multitude of sources of evidence that need to be taken into account including any Strategic Housing Market Assessment that may exist (as produced by Tandridge District Council), the Department for Communities and Local Government Housing Projections, the local housing waiting list, the most recent Employment Land Review carried out by the local authority and the latest Census information. Local house prices and rental prices can also help to inform the housing needs assessment. There is a lot of research needed in order to produce this part of the evidence needed to support the plan.
A housing needs assessment is only part of the requirement for housing. Consideration must also be given to the look, the sustainability, the environmental aspects and a number of other elements. Housing is a critical element of the Neighbourhood Plan.
If you have an interest in housing in the parish of Godstone and would like to get involved in the drafting of the GPNP, you will be very welcome to join us and can contact us via the contact page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.