COUNCILLORS in Cornwall have agreed a final figure of 47,500 new homes to be built in the county up to 2030.
After a lengthy debate at County Hall in Truro yesterday, members of the full council voted two-to-one in favour of the figure, after an earlier Conservative group motion for 33,000 homes was rejected.
The figure forms part of the Local Plan - which has been on the unitary authority’s agenda since 2011 – and sets out future housing requirements in Cornwall.
Much debate has centred around the total figure of new homes planned, with officers recommending a higher number over a second option of 42,250.
Edwina Hannaford, Liberal Democrat councillor for Looe West, Lansallos and Lanteglos and also portfolio holder for environment, heritage and planning, argued the case for the higher figure.
“We need an adopted plan, we don’t want to rely on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as the primary policy for planning decisions; 47,500 will give us a fighting chance to gain control over our own planning policies,” she said.
“We also need affordable housing; 27,000 houses already have planning permission and 7,000 of those have already been built, meaning the real figure is more like 27,500 houses over the next 17 years,” she added.
Steve Chamberlain, Conservative councillor and member of the planning advisory committee, tabled a motion calling for a lower target of 33,000 homes.
Conservative councillor for St Mawgan and Colan John Fitter agreed that a lower number was more appropriate, reiterating that the council needed to “fight for Cornwall”.
“We need to show parliament in London that we are not frightened by their nonsense,” he said.
But, after a series of lengthy debates, councillors voted against the Tory-led motion by 78 to 28.
Council officers had strongly advised that the overall housing number should reflect national demographic projections “so as to be robust at examination”, and gave their support to the higher figure.
According to council officers, evidence has shown that Local Plans in other regions that did not include housing numbers based closely on national guidance were failing before or on examination.
Councillors voted in favour of 47,500 homes by 66 votes to 33, with Mrs Hannaford adding: “I believe the lower figure will only delay the process for several years and will leave Cornwall unprotected and open to harmful challenge”.
Newquay Central Liberal Democrat councillor and Portfolio Holder for Homes and Communities Geoff Brown reiterated Mrs Hannaford’s views.
He said: “This case is committed to delivering much needed homes for the people of Cornwall, as many of the 47,500 homes have already been given permission and many already built, so the true figure of new homes is closer to 20,000. We need to ensure that our delivery best meets the needs of many communities.”
The draft Local Plan will now go out to public consultation.