The Oxfordshire SHMA can still be challenged!

Hulton Park

15th October 2014

The Planning Inspectorate has written to a CPRE member confirming that the Oxfordshire SHMA is ‘as yet untested’.

A CPRE member wrote to the Planning Inspectorate recently questioning the impartiality of the Inspector at the Cherwell Examination on the Local Plan (in June) and the fairness of the process, concerned that the public might not question the SHMA figures, thinking they had already been decided as the basis for the Plan.

The Inspectorate has written: ‘The six month suspension of the examination should enable the Council to address the objectively assessed housing needs as required in national policy including evidence arising from the Oxfordshire wide strategic housing market assessment’. 

He added: ‘As this evidence, is, as yet, untested it is likely to be given very careful consideration by the Inspector when the examination resumes’.

Our local District Councils need to heed the Inspectorate’s comments and challenge the SHMA figures. They should not be treated as housing targets, but as one part of the evidence base against which Councils should assess their housing need.

Cherwell District Council recently published modifications to its draft Local Plan, following the direction from the Government Planning Inspector – this required Cherwell to use exceptionally high forecasts of housing need from the controversial SHMA. The deadline for representations (objections) on this consulation was 3 October. 

See our response to the consultation.

CPRE objected to the uncritical use of the SHMA forecasts in Cherwell’s Local Plan, which would put our countryside at risk.

The SHMA has not been subject to any consultation or independent examination and we are pressing for this to happen. It may be that the first opportunity to challenge it will be when the examination into the Cherwell Local Plan resumes. This is expected in December.

CPRE Oxfordshire, 15 October 2014