Local Plan: Mathematical error identified in Harrogate housing blueprint

Underway: Harrogate's draft local plan hearings kicked off last week. Picture: Lachlan LeemingUnderway: Harrogate's draft local plan hearings kicked off last week. Picture: Lachlan Leeming
Underway: Harrogate's draft local plan hearings kicked off last week. Picture: Lachlan Leeming
Harrogate Borough Council will forge ahead with a plan to build at least 14,049 homes in the district over the next two decades, despite a mathematical error being identified that pins the actual minimum required as 13,377.

The 672-dwelling discrepancy was highlighted during the first week of hearings into Harrogate's draft local plan.Keep The Hammerton Green (KTHG), an action group advising against development in the Hammerton area, had written to council with various criticism of the Housing and Economic Development Needs Assessment (HEDNA) figures used to calculate the Objectively Assessed Need for houses .

Top of the list of critiques was that the calculated figure was based off an "arithmetic" error, with the assumption of there being 20 years in the period 2014-2035, instead of 21.

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The council published their reply online on January 14, stating that KTHG's assessment was correct.

It means the housing need in Harrogate is reduced by 4.8 per cent per annum, or 32 dwellings a year.

However, the council indicated that the change does not indicate a need to reduce allocations as the OAN is a minimum target, stating the overall numbers set out for the 2014-2035 period in the HEDNA correct.

"By planning for more homes than the housing requirement the council is building a level of flexibility in order to maintain a five year supply during the life of the plan in case some sites do not come forward as anticipated," the council's response reads.

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When factoring in completions from the start of the plan period, it means the level of flexibility - the amount of homes budgeted for above the OAN - has ballooned from the 13 per cent originally quoted to at least 24 per cent.

"Although this is a higher percentage than originally stated, the council does not consider this requires any amendment to the plan," council outlined in an additional statement.

The change was a recurrent topic at Thursday morning's hearing on the draft local plan.

Following that session, cabinet member for planning Coun Rebecca Burnett issued a statement saying the council would continue with the statistics originally proposed, while compiling more information for the inspector.

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"At Thursday morning’s hearing session the inspector asked us to provide some additional information, which we will now put together for him," she said.

"It is up to the inspector to decide how to deal with the issue, like all others discussed at the hearings.

"Since it is out of the council’s gift to deal with now, we won’t say any more about the specifics."

She added that identifying parts of the local plan that may be altered was part of the expected process.

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“Generally however, this is what the examination is for - the inspector is examining every part of the plan, the evidence base and the arguments made against it," she said.

"He said himself in his opening remarks that it would be unheard of for a plan to pass through examination unmodified.

"We need to let him do his job and suggest what he thinks is the best way forward.”

Hearings will resume on Tuesday, January 22, on the topic of site allocations in Harrogate, Ripon and Knaresborough.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporting Service