Council asks government for clarity on proposed changes to planning system

The Leader of Havant Borough Council has written to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities requesting clarity on proposed reforms to housing targets, whilst highlighting the risks presented to the borough's Local Plan in its absence.

Councillor Alex Rennie's letter to Michael Gove MP highlights how much progress is being made in delivering a Local Plan for the borough, which will set out the vision for future development in the borough, identify what areas should be developed, and what requirements and standards developers should meet in their developments.

Changes were announced by government in December 2022 to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB) and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), implying changes to how housing targets for local authorities would be measured. Councillor Rennie's letter highlights the housing targets set out by government do not appreciate the numerous urban, environmental and landscape constraints of the borough, thereby creating significant issues for the council to meet projected housing figures that do not take into consideration the borough's unique character.

Draft revisions of the NPPF allude to "exceptional circumstances" allowing changes to the housing figures which otherwise follow a generic formula for all local authorities, regardless of their opportunities or constraints. Councillor Rennie's letter asks for the criteria which would define "exceptional circumstances", so that the council could consider reflecting this in its Local Plan and also address potential issues of speculative development in the absence of this detail.

Councillor Alex Rennie said: "We welcome the changes that have been made so far in the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill with regards to housing targets. Havant is a constrained area and achieving the targets set out by Government had been hugely challenging.

“However, for Local Authorities that are developing Local Plans we need more clarity on how these impact our plan making process.”

To view the full letter, click here. For more information on the borough's Local Plan, visit