Basildon fourth worst borough in England for housing delivery

Basildon delivered only 40 per cent of its housing requirement last year, making it the fourth lowest performing district in England and the second lowest in Essex.

According to the government’s Housing Delivery Test, the borough failed to deliver its target of 2,824 homes from 2019-2020 and is also underperforming for the current year 2020-2021.

Council officers reported a lack of available land as the key reason behind the poor performance and have identified through the Local Plan process a need to release land from the green belt to combat the problem.

Senior Planner Lisa Richardson said: “That is our most critical step really, is the adoption of that plan to release sites and allow them to come forward for development which should significantly improve our housing delivery.”

The most up to date version of the Local Plan is currently being looked at by the Planning Inspectorate before it can be approved by the council.

However, Independent Group deputy leader, Cllr Val Robbins questioned whether brownfield sites like the empty car park in Basildon town centre could be used instead.

She said: “What concerns me is that you’re thinking about taking more Green Belt. You’ve already taken plenty of Green Belt at the end of Dry Street.”

The farm at the end of Dry Street has not currently been allocated for development and the council is conducting an urban capacity study to assess the possibility of developing the town centre.

While officers maintain adopting a new Local Plan will be the greatest catalyst for increasing delivery, they are also recommending the council publish part two of the Brownfield Land Register to allow selected sites permission in principle for development.

The council is additionally looking at fast-tracking stalled applications, although these would only account for 16 per cent of the total need.

Basildon has under delivered for four of the last six years which has increased house prices and reduced affordability in the borough. The average house price in Basildon has risen by 10 per cent in the last year according to Rightmove and 6.19 per cent according to Zoopla.

Over 1,000 households in the borough are currently on the waiting list for affordable housing.

The Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee resolved to note the implications of the Housing Delivery Test and publish an action plan while awaiting the approval of a new Local Plan.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter