THE people of North Devon will have to start considering the idea of a new town as Barnstaple reaches capacity, a councillor has said.
Eric Ley, chairman of North Devon Council’s planning committee, said by 2031, which is the period covered by the emerging local plan, the area’s main town will have had as much development as it can take.
“The authority will then be looking for sustainable green field locations that aren’t currently built on,” he said.
The revelation came during a meeting between the Journal and planning officers in which the issues surrounding a five year land supply were discussed.
The five-year land supply is required by the National Planning Policy Framework. It sets out the number of houses that have a realistic prospect of being built within the next five years.
The council has come under fire recently for allegedly not having a five-year land supply, something planning officers are keen to refute.
Planning manager Mike Kelly said it was one of the documents that underpinned the local plan.
North Devon’s current housing supply over a five-year period currently sits at 2,485, or 497 houses a year.
And officers say large sites such as the 820 home development at Larkbear in Barnstaple would contribute towards reaching that figure.
However, only the homes on these sites that will be delivered within the next five years will contribute to the five-year land supply.
Mr Kelly said: “In uncertain economic times, and particularly where we are reliant on large scale strategic allocations for our land supply, it is not unusual for planning authorities not to be able to supply a five year figure.
“The sites we’ve approved recently will all contribute towards the five year land supply and will all be in the forthcoming local plan.”
While the emerging local plan cannot guarantee a five year land supply, if the council did not have one it would be even harder to turn down planning applications.
Planning policy officer James Brain said: “There is this five year rule that we have to comply with, but the council is meeting its duties in the sense that we have been successful in refusing applications that have not been suitable.”