Fewer houses could be built annually on the Isle of Wight, as the latest changes to a major planning policy are considered.
More than six years in the making, and having cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in Isle of Wight Council officers’ time, the draft Island planning strategy is to be discussed next week.
The most recent changes have been developed over seven months of work.
County Hall’s planning officers are proposing a scheme that means instead of using the government’s calculations, which require 730 houses to be built on the Isle of Wight per year, 38 per cent of that total could be built instead – 453 properties.
This is a further reduction on an earlier draft of the local planning strategy, which had brought the annual requirement for new houses down to 479.
The latest reduction has been achieved because, where the process has taken so long, an additional year’s worth of data can be considered.
The requirement for new houses would split over the different parts of the Island, taking into account approved and proposed developments.
The latest draft also requires more affordable rental properties, more accountability, for planning permission and contributions towards primary healthcare facilities, as well as flood mitigation measures.
The main chunk of the recent strategy was first unveiled in August 2021, but disagreement over the details meant it was turned down in 2022 and sent back to the authority’s leading members.
Now, seven months on, the council is forging on.
A ‘deep dive’ will take place on Tuesday, December 12, at a public meeting of the policy and scrutiny committee for neighbourhoods and regeneration, before the strategy goes before cabinet members, and then all members. early in 2024.
The council’s Empowering Islanders Group has accused the ruling Alliance administration of trying to ‘bulldoze’ the strategy through, ‘minimising scrutiny and consultation’ as there is a tight time frame.
It says the strategy is not an easy read, because it is 200 pages long and full of technical information, and the group wants all councillors to have time to carefully read it, and discuss it with residents and local councils.
Cllr Paul Fuller, Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet member for planning, said consultation on the strategy began more than six years ago and the council has received and listened to feedback from thousands of residents.
He said, where possible the strategy has evolved to embed some of the comments but, in instances where residents remain unhappy and feel their views haven’t been taken into account, there would be an opportunity for further public consultation at the next stage.
In January, all members must decide whether or not to publish the strategy, and submit it to the Secretary of State, after which there would be public consultation.