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Lewes wins government U-turn on housing delivery test

Words: Huw Morris
New Housing iStock

The government has backed down over its housing delivery test for Lewes District Council in the face of a legal challenge by the local authority.

Lewes launched High Court proceedings against the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) after the publication of its annual housing delivery test results in February.

The result indicated that the council had delivered only 50 per cent of the homes required under its adopted local plan over the previous three years. The consequence of delivery falling below 85 per cent is a requirement to add a 20 per cent buffer to a council’s five-year housing land supply. 

This would have meant the council losing its five-year housing land supply, its local plan treated as ‘out of date’ and irrelevant when determining planning applications. Neighbourhood plans over two years old would also effectively become redundant, the council warned.

The case was listed for a final hearing at the High Court later this month. But the MHCLG has now accepted the evidence put forward by Lewes and a revised housing delivery test result of 86 per cent has been issued. 

“The decision to issue proceedings was not taken lightly, but they were necessary to safeguard our local plan,” said cabinet member for planning Emily O’Brien.

“The revised test result means that Lewes can demonstrate we have an up-to-date local plan and that planning decisions can be made in accordance with our adopted local plan, which includes the policies in our adopted local neighbourhood plans.

“We are extremely relieved that the hard work of the district council and our local communities in the preparation of our local and neighbourhood plans has not been jeopardised.”

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