New lower ONS household projections probably won’t change housing targets in Cornwall.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have published new 2016-based Household Projections. They forecast – nationwide – a growth of 165,000 households per annum over the ten year period 2018-28 compared to the previous forecast of 218,000 over the ten years 2018–28.

For Cornwall, the forecast is for 1,924 new households annually compared to the previous forecast of 2,199, a reduction of 275 per annum. When applied to the new ‘standard method’ of estimating housing need included in NPPF 2018, this forecast implies an annual requirement for 2,520 dwellings, compared to the Cornwall Local Plan average of 2,625, suggesting an over provision of 2,100.

So does this mean that the Local Plan ought to be immediately revised to reduce the housing requirements? In short: No.

This is because Local Plan housing targets are viewed as a baseline minimum to be planned for, which can be exceeded if there are sound reasons to do so. For example, to spur on economic growth, fund regeneration, support new infrastructure and generate more affordable homes. All of these apply to Cornwall. Indeed, where the housing ‘affordability ratio’ is 4 or more, Planning Authorities are expected to ‘uplift’ the housing requirement so that the increased supply will reduce the pressure on house prices. In Cornwall the ratio is usually around 9.

There is another reason not to revise the Local Plan, and that is the already signalled central government response to the new household projections. Put simply, the Govt. has decided that there shall be 300,000 new dwellings per year, and that the new ‘standard method’ will be revised to ensure that it shows a need for 300,000 dwellings per year.