You are being urged to have your say on estimates that as many as 6,500 new homes need to be built here in the Derbyshire Dales by the year 2033.
This week, every household in the Dales will receive a publication called 'Your Local Plan' [PDF 1.72MB], which provides background information and links to an online questionnaire inviting feedback on the 6,500 new homes figure, the provision of affordable homes and whether residents agree or disagree with a list of towns and villages considered to be the most appropriate for new development.
There are questions too about the district's Gypsy and Traveller site requirements, new employment land targets and the possibility of small-scale infill developments in smaller villages.
The publication also examines different scenarios that might make the 6,500 target figure suggested by District Council consultants higher or lower, depending on the strategy the Plan eventually takes in meeting affordable housing needs and economic growth ambitions.
This initial consultation exercise is the first milestone on a new timetable that should see a new draft Derbyshire Dales Local Plan published for consultation in the early part of next year. The District Council's target is to submit a final Plan for Government approval by the end of 2016.
In October last year an earlier draft - which responded positively to the overwhelming views of Dales residents to provide for 4,400 new homes against an Objectively Assessed Need for 6,000 houses - was withdrawn after a Government Inspector concluded the District Council was not providing sufficient new houses to meet the needs of the area.
District Council Leader Councillor Lewis Rose OBE said:
"We had no choice but to withdraw the earlier version of the Local Plan because it didn't meet the national government's policy to build more houses.
"We were told our estimate of 4,400 new homes was 2,000 short of what is needed. So now it is back to the drawing board, but we continue to welcome our residents' involvement in every part of the preparation of this vital Plan for the future. We really hope that after digesting all the information in the 'Your Local Plan' publication local people will complete the online questionnaire to help us in our deliberations."
Independent analysis predicts a population growth of 8.4% in the district over the 20-year Plan period, starting from 2013. Economic growth up to 2033 could also see around 1,700 new jobs delivered across the district, requiring an additional 57 dwellings on top of demographic needs. Additional homes to address the district's affordable housing need takes the total number of new homes estimate to around 6,440.
"Taking into account the latest population and economic growth forecasts and our affordable housing needs, we probably need to build around 322 new homes a year up to 2033," Councillor Rose added.
"While we will of course protect wherever possible our green fields, in some instances this won't be possible. Sadly, future housing needs cannot be accommodated by developing brownfield sites alone.
"Another big issue is housing distribution. Half of our area is within the Peak District National Park, where housing targets cannot be set because of the Park's conservation purpose. It means a larger proportion of housing need has to be met by the Local Plan area of the Dales outside the National Park. This, along with many other factors, including the massive 88% increase forecast in our over 75 population, is explained in the publication."
- The District Council is also holding a series of public meetings to further explain key issues and enable residents and stakeholders to ask any additional questions. The meetings will take place on Tuesday 10 November at Elim Church, Ashbourne, on Wednesday 18 November 2015 at Wirksworth Leisure Centre and Wednesday 25 November 2015 at Matlock Town Hall. All start at 7pm.