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Reports by the University of Liverpool and the University of Manchester on housing needs in Wirral

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Wallasey Conservatives

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

At today's meeting of the Local Plan Advisory Group, three reports by the universities of Liverpool and Manchester were tabled, the first dated December 2018.

Please confirm:

1. The date each report was received at Wirral Council and by which officer:
2. Which other officers have had sight of or received copies, and when
3. Which elected councillors (current or previous) have had sight of or received copies, and when
4. Which consultants or interim members of staff have had sight of or received copies, and when
5. Who drafted the associated 'context' note and copies of any previous versions

As none of the three reports or the internal 'context' note are marked as exempt, I trust this information will be available.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr. Ian Lewis
[email address]

Paterson, Lynette M., Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Councillor Lewis

 

Thank you for your recent request for information in which you asked the
following :

 

At today's meeting of the Local Plan Advisory Group, three reports by the
universities of Liverpool and Manchester were tabled, the first dated
December 2018. 

 

Please confirm:

1. The date each report was received at Wirral Council and by which
officer:

2. Which other officers have had sight of or received copies, and when

3. Which elected councillors (current or previous) have had sight of or
received copies, and when

4. Which consultants or interim members of staff have had sight of or
received copies, and when

5. Who drafted the associated 'context' note and copies of any previous
versions

 

Please see below Wirral Council’s response to your enquiry.  In order to
fully respond to your enquiry, we have provided some background
information that will assist in providing clarity to the responses given.

 

 

The previous Chief Executive and the former Director of Economic and
Housing Growth requested technical reports be prepared to advise on the
representations on housing numbers which had been received as part of the
Development Options Review consultation in 2018. The Council did not have
the internal expertise to undertake this work so the University of
Liverpool (with the support of the University of Manchester) were
commissioned to provide this technical advice to the Council.

 

The Development Options Review consultation responses received by the
Council were published in summary form in February 2019 alongside a
comment that the Council would respond to these in detail, as part of its
Regulation 18 (Draft Local Plan stage) in January 2020. Some were of the
view that this was too long a period for the Council to respond and a
letter of explanation and apology was written to all those who had
submitted comments, to explain how their comments would be taken into
account, the timescale for Regulation 18 and the way in which responses
and consultation would take place. The Council will be sending a further
letter to these respondents advising them of the consultation process in
December 2019 as stated in the earlier letter.

 

In February 2019, the Government issued their response to the consultation
on the ONS projections which had been published in September 2018. The ONS
2016 figures (published in 2018) had given significantly lower housing
need figures (488 per annum as opposed to 803 per annum in the 2012 ONS
figures) and the Council, in its response to the Government consultation
had argued that the 2016 figures should be used rather than the 2012 ONS
projections. However, the Government, in their response reinforced their
view about the use of the Standard Method and required the use of the 2012
ONS projections (the higher number) and therefore the work undertaken by
the University became historic because Government had determined their
policy approach. This brought an end to any further discussion about
methodology or the ONS projections. Government did say in the consultation
that they would review this matter over the following 18 months but from
discussions with the MHCLG it does not appear that this has been
progressed by them.

 

In this context, the response to the individual questions below are given.

 

1.           The date each report was received at Wirral Council and by
which officer:

 

The final reports were received by the Council on 8 April 2019. This was a
result of contract processes between the Council and the University. The
general content and conclusions regarding the work were known by the
Council before this date.

 

The technical reports were sent to the Assistant Director for Major Growth
Projects and Housing Delivery.

 

2.           Which other officers have had sight of or received copies,
and when

 

Given that the reports were now historic, having been overtaken by the
Government consultation response in February 2019, the reports were not
shared internally as the focus was on the considerable and time limited
task of preparing and updating of the evidence base to support the
Regulation 18 process in line with the MHCLG Action Plan. The issue of
using the Standard Method and the 2014 ONS projections had been accepted
by the Council following the Government consultation response, and this
was confirmed in the MHCLG Local Plan Action Plan submitted in April 2019.
The Council is not aware of any exceptional local circumstances which
would justify proposing a different approach to the Standard Method.

 

However, if any evidence is provided in this regard it will fully assess
this during the Regulation 18 consultation process and report this back to
Members when the Regulation 19 Plan is being prepared. The Council is
doing all it can to bring forward an urban option, as its preferred
option, for meeting housing and employment needs at Regulation 18.  

 

The officers who attend the Local Plan Member Advisory Group received
copies of the reports in September 2019.   

 

3. Which elected councillors (current or previous) have had sight of or
received copies, and when

 

In the context of question 1 above the reports were not circulated to any
elected Councillors prior to the Local Plan Member Advisory Group in
September 2019.

 

4. Which consultants or interim members of staff have had sight of or
received copies, and when

 

In the context of Question 1 above, no consultants or interim members of
staff had sight of, or received copies of the reports.

 

5. Who drafted the associated 'context' note and copies of any previous
versions

 

This was drafted by the Council’s QC. There are no previous versions of
the note. When the Council published the note, alongside the three
reports, it added the date, a contact officer and listed the three reports
for clarity whereas the initial note had included them in the text of a
paragraph.

 

We trust this answers your enquiry in full.  If you have any further
queries the Council’s Assistant Director, Major Growth Projects and
Housing Delivery is happy to discuss matters further.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Lynette Paterson

Principal Information Management Officer

Wirral Council

Business Management - ICT

Treasury Building

Argyle Street

Birkenhead

Wirral

CH41 1AH

 

Tel: 0151 691 8201

[1][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

 

 

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