This Neighbourhood Plan update, with a focus on Long Leys Housing Requirements, was written by Jon Davies, Chair of NPAG – the Neighbourhood Plan Action Group that is managing the day-to-day activities of the Long Leys Neighbourhood Plan on behalf of LLRA. (See NPAG for details)
July: Overall Project Update
With grant approval achieved in June, activity on the Long Leys Neighbourhood Plan is now underway. The main activity short term for the NPAG team is gathering evidence on a variety of different topics, to help guide the development of Long Leys planning policy. Over the next month or so you will see requests for help, from different members of the NPAG team, on particular aspects of the initial focus areas (See Focus Areas for details). We are also developing a community vision statement and agreeing the top line objectives with the planning consultant we are working with. More on this in the future.
Housing Focus Update
Housing development is likely to be a significant theme in the final Neighbourhood Plan, primarily as it is not something we can control as a community in isolation. It is influenced by National Planning Policy, which changed in 2018, and the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan, which is currently under review as a result of the national changes (despite only going live in 2017).
Within NPAG there has already been a significant amount of work on evidence gathering on future housing requirements, and this is likely to continue throughout the project. So far this has involved looking at three areas:
- A review of the history of housing development in Long Leys (See Historical Development of Long Leys)
- An assessment of the profile of current housing stock (see detail below this summary)
- Grant funding for specialist consultancy work to establish the future housing needs of Long Leys.
As we develop our twenty-year plan, it is worth reminding ourselves that in the last twenty years Long Leys has grown from less than 200 homes to around 631 homes today. We also have additional communal establishments such as Cloverleaf Care Home. This has taken our population from under 400 to around 1,430. Following that burst of growth, little in the way of new facilities for the community has been added. NPAG is very conscious that future housing development, if any, must be linked to an appropriate level of new facilities and infrastructure for the community.
To establish future housing needs, NPAG has now commissioned a specialist consultant to undertake a Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) to establish the quantity and types of housing needed to support anticipated growth in the Long Leys Community 2021-2040. This will take about two to three months to complete and uses a nationally agreed approach to calculate likely housing needs (see background information below this article)
We are also taking a keen interest in the review of the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan which is currently underway. In this review, existing housing allocations across Central Lincolnshire must be reconsidered, particularly for small and medium sized sites (under a Hectare). This could influence housing development in Long Leys over the next twenty years and needs to be considered within the Neighbourhood Plan.
Next Steps on Housing
Now the focus is on completing the Housing Needs Assessment. Once this is available, probably in early autumn, we will be consulting widely with the community on approaches to housing development (if any). Housing development is a complex topic and the brief summary above really only scratches the surface. For those who wish to know more, further details on some of the background issues on housing are included below and, if these are not sufficient, NPAG is happy to respond to any specific questions or queries you have, bearing in mind that we may not have clear answers at this stage! NPAG can be contacted via NPAG@long-leys.org .
Background to Neighbourhood Plan
This particular activity is part of the Neighbourhood Planning project for Long Leys and supports the following focus area:
- Housing Needs Assessment: Establishing the quantity and types of housing needed to support growth in the Long Leys Community by 2040.
The Long Leys Neighbourhood Plan is being developed by LLRA and community volunteers, along with specialist support from a grant funded planning consultant and other specialist consultants. The overall project is being managed, on behalf of LLRA, by the Neighbourhood Planning Action Group (NPAG). If you would like to volunteer to help with any of the Neighbourhood Plan activity, which is 100% community led and controlled, then email us at NPAG@long-leys.org. Volunteers willingly give up their time to benefit the whole Long Leys community. See long-leys.org/neighbourhood-plan/ for more details on the project.
Background Information: Housing
Housing development is a complex issue and there is inevitably a lot of detailed information required. Long Leys is influenced by planning policy at both a National and Central Lincolnshire level as well as at a community level. To ensure transparency, NPAG’s detailed considerations are included below, under the following headings:
- Existing housing in Long Leys
- What the Housing Needs Assessment will deliver
- Review of the 2017 Central Lincolnshire Local Plan
- NPAG’s view on the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan (CLLP) changes
- What NPAG is doing to manage different possible outcomes of the CLLP review
- Links to further reading
Existing Housing In Long Leys
Today the population of Long Leys is around 1,430, living either in one of an estimated 631 homes or in communal establishments, such as Cloverleaf Care Home. Long Leys was not defined as a specific area in the 2011 Census so whilst we can use some census data as a guide, we have had to do our own assessments. Figure 1 shows NPAG’s estimate of the current housing breakdown in Long Leys by geographic area and type of home. Figure 2 defines the areas (A-E) we used in the analysis.
What The Housing Needs Assessment Will Deliver
The Housing Needs Assessment will look at the housing need in Long Leys to 2040, using the National Planning Policy Framework, and provide answers to the following:
- Quantity of housing required to support growth in the Long Leys community over the next 20 years.
- Type and size of housing.
- Tenure (owned / rental) and Affordability.
- Specialist Housing. The specific needs of
- Older residents who may wish to downsize in the future
- Younger people in our community hoping to get on the property ladder.
This assessment will primarily consider the needs of the Long Leys community rather than the wider area.
Review of the 2017 Central Lincolnshire Local Plan
A key reason why NPAG commissioned an HNA is to ensure that we get on the “front foot” with regards to any potential housing developments. Changes in 2018 to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) have driven a review, now underway, of the current Central Lincolnshire Local Plan (CLLP) approach to housing allocations. The current CLLP itself came into effect in 2017 and runs until 2036.
Changes in NPPF calculation methods will almost certainly result in a reduction in the minimum number of houses required to be built within Central Lincolnshire each year. The new figure, yet to be finalised, is likely to be between 1,300 and 1,500 new homes per year across Lincoln, West Lindsay and North Kesteven District Councils. However, the mix between large, medium and small sites has been changed in NPPF. As a result, the District Councils have issued a “Call for Sites” to invite local land owners to offer additional sites for assessment on their suitability for housing development. The councils need to demonstrate that they have at least a 5-year landbank of suitable sites (locations for approx. 6,500-7,500 homes to be built over the next 5 years).
NPPF and CLLP policy and changes which could have a future impact:
- A: At least 10% of the 5-year landbank volume must be on sites under 1 hectare
- In Long Leys 1 hectare would mean approx. 25 houses.
- B: There is an allowance for “entry level exception sites” on the edge of existing settlements upto 1 hectare or 5% of existing settlement is permitted
- 5% of Long Leys would be circa 32 homes.
- C: If the District Councils in Central Lincolnshire fail to maintain a 5-year housing landbank of sites, then it becomes easier for developers to propose locations outside of those allocated within any new Central Lincolnshire Local Plan
- Any delay to larger site development, such as that proposed for the Western Growth Corridor (WGC), could open up areas including Long Leys to more housing development. This is only likely to be a consideration after 2025, when actual performance on 2019-2024 house building can be compared against the CLLP.
NPAG’s View On The Central Lincolnshire Local Plan Changes.
Long Leys is a small community, in a desirable area close to the city centre, surrounded by a lot of land. It sits next to a large community (Lincoln) with relatively little suitable land for further growth within the city boundaries. The attraction of Long Leys to house-builders (and potential homeowners) is obvious.
Historically our community has developed in short bursts rather than evolving gradually. The last burst was in the late 1990s (See Historical Development of Long Leys) when the addition of the Mitchell Drive Development (approx. 67 homes) and St Georges (approx. 345 homes) trebled the size of the community over three or four years. Developers added these homes with little consideration for any additional community facilities or infrastructure. The Neighbourhood Plan should ensure, as far as practical, that any additional housing development also delivers needed community facilities and infrastructure.
NPAG’s considered judgement is that Long Leys could be attractive for two types of housing development by 2040:
- Short term (responding to points A + B above)
- Up to 25 new homes (1 Hectare)
- Longer term (responding to point C above)
- From 2025 onwards Long Leys could experience a significantly larger development, of upwards of 3-4 Hectares (75-100 new homes). This could occur if the Western Growth Corridor or other large sites hit major obstacles and as a result the District Council housing landbank falls below the 5-year level which then permits a larger scale of development on other sites.
The figures above are just one view of what MAY happen. It is not in any way intended to imply that it will happen; just that our plans should take these possible outcomes into account. At this stage no one can be certain of the level of additional house-building in Long Leys over the next 20 years (if any). Feedback from other communities with larger new housing sites (such as Saxilby & Nettleham) suggests that is is better to plan a community response to these outcomes, rather than ignore them. In that way developments can be influenced positively, rather than the community having to quickly react to planning applications from developers without any prior consultation with the community.
What NPAG is Doing to Manage Different Possible Outcomes of the CLLP Review
We are taking these into account by:
- Carrying out a Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) so we have our own evidence for what is needed in Long Leys to support the natural growth of the community. We can then demonstrate in our Neighbourhood Plan that we have allowed for Long Leys housing requirements to 2040. This makes it less likely, without support from the community, that Long Leys would receive part of any possible shortfall in house building from the overall Central Lincolnshire Local Plan.
- A higher level HNA, using the same broad assumptions, is currently being done by the District Councils for the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan review. This should be ready around November 2019.
- In coming months, we will issue our own “Call for Sites” which will allow us to professionally assess the suitability or otherwise of any land offered by local landowners for housing development, either separately or as part of the Central Lincolnshire “Call for Sites”.
- Carrying out habitat and other assessments, to ensure that key green spaces valued by our community are given maximum protection under the Neighbourhood Plan (to clarify, West Common is not part of our plan area and is already protected by an Act of Parliament).
- As part of the project we will develop, via specialist consultants, a “Design Code” for building development in Long Leys. This should guide the design of any future housing or commercial development to ensure that the “Green look and feel” of our area has greater protection.
You can read more at:
- Long Leys Housing Needs Assessment: https://long-leys.org/long-leys-housing-needs-assessment/
- National Planning Policy Framework: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-planning-policy-framework–2
- Central Lincolnshire Plan Review: https://www.n-kesteven.gov.uk/central-lincolnshire/
- History of Development in Long Leys: https://long-leys.org/development-of-long-leys/
- Further information on NPAG: https://long-leys.org/neighbourhood-plan-action-group-npag-minutes/