The chief planner at Sedgemoor District Council, also responsible for overseeing inward investment and growth, has called for the housing delivery test to be made applicable to other authorities and agencies.

Speaking at the Bristol Planning Law and Policy Conference, Claire Pearce challenged the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to consider applying the test to highways authorities as well as other statutory and private sector bodies.

She said that “The housing delivery test is welcome, but we would like to see this as an opportunity to hold other people to account,” said Pearce. “We want to see the system work better with the performance regime and housing delivery test applying to the system as a whole, not just planning authorities.”

Pearce went on to say that she was experiencing delays within the system, mainly due to statutory agencies and highways authorities. “The interpretation of ‘severe impact’ for us is a constant thorn,” she explained. “We see many barriers from different statutory agencies, which slow us down. The NPPF’s positive planning approach and the presumption in favour must apply to the system as a whole, not just local planning authorities.”

Additionally, Pearce expressed concerns about the potential for Sedgemoor to be penalised through the current housing delivery test for a specific shortfall in a particular year despite the total houses delivered over a wider timeframe meeting demand.

She framed her concern in the context of Sedgemoor’s substantial activity in providing temporary accommodation consents for the ongoing Hinkley Point C construction project (pictured above). Currently there are around 4,000 people on the site which equates to about 10% the size of Bridgwater.

04 December 2018