Torbay needs thousands more homes over the next 20 years and we are asking local residents to help decide where they should go.

The Local Plan Update which we are consulting on outlines how we plan to deliver 5,400 homes between now and 2040. The Local Plan identifies where homes could be built and aims to get the views of as many local people in Torbay, from as many different ages and backgrounds as possible.

Torbay currently has 150 families in temporary accommodation – and 1600 households on the waiting list for affordable housing – and this number will only grow over the coming years.

Between now and 2040, the council proposes to build at least 5,400 homes. Whilst this number is less than the government is requesting us to build, the council believes that this is the highest number that can be provided without seriously harming the environment.  The Plan promotes brownfield regeneration, particularly in the town centres as a means of boosting housing supply.  It also emphasises the importance of providing affordable homes for local people and avoiding building ‘second homes’.

The Local Plan doesn’t just look at housing though - it also sets out an overarching strategic policy and sets targets for employment land, addressing the Climate Emergency, and suggests with more detailed policies for Neighbourhood Plan areas. There will also be a separate consultation on the Council’s new Housing Strategy later in October.

Neighbourhood Plans were produced by local Neighbourhood Forums, and adopted by Torbay Council in 2019.  In preparing the Local Plan Site Options proposals, the council has sought, as far as possible, to respect the Neighbourhood Plans, and the wishes of the local community who worked tirelessly to produce them.

A key reason why the council is unable to support the government’s housing figure is because of the substantial harm this would do to the Neighbourhood Plans.  However, due to the need for housing, the Local Plan Update has had to consider allocating some sites beyond the neighbourhood plans for development. 

These sites are currently being put forward for consultation and no decision will be made on them until this has been completed. We will then want to work with local communities in updating the Local Plan.

Councillor Mike Morey, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Environment and Culture, said: “It is really important that everyone in Torbay takes the opportunity to engage with our Local Plan survey. We want to hear from everyone – particularly if you live in social housing or you are on the housing waiting list – and we really need to hear from younger people in the Bay because this is about the future direction of housing and they will be most affected.

“The government sets a formula- known as the Standard Method- for calculating the minimum number of homes that an area needs to provide. This figure is 600 dwellings a year: or 10,800 new homes by 2040. While we accept that there is a pressing housing need, we have concerns about the way the Standard Method is calculated - in particular, that it relies on very old data.  But our main concern is that the Standard Method takes no account of environmental constraints, or an area’s capacity to accommodate growth in terms of jobs, infrastructure or suitable land to build on. 

“We also know that there will be some very difficult decisions because there is limited land in Torbay – we will always prioritise urban regeneration and building on brownfield sites where possible, however due to the number of homes that Torbay needs, we also need your help identifying which pieces of land could be developed for housing.”

Councillor Swithin Long, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration, Housing and Tourism, said: “It’s important to emphasise that there are no easy options left and we therefore need residents to help us prioritise which areas can be built on. So we need to be upfront – we will need to build on some greenfield sites as well as brownfield sites. There are some areas – for example the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – which the draft Plan seeks to protect, but this does mean we will need to look at other sites – and we need your help.

“So please do take the time to do our online survey, there is also an interactive map where you can pinpoint the areas that you think the new housing should go.”

You can have your say on the Local Plan consultation here.

The survey closes on Monday 21 November 2022.

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