Waverley Borough Council is expected to take its under-fire Local Plan planning blueprint back to the drawing board next week.
The borough’s Local Plan sets out how the council intends to meet its government-set housing target of 590 homes per year in the period 2013 to 2032.
However, an inability to meet this housing target in recent years – exacerbated by delays to the 2,600-home Dunsfold Park development and legal rows over other key sites such as Milford Golf Course – has rendered the current Local Plan out-of-date.
Councillors have been told as many as 743 homes a year may now have to be built across the borough to meet government requirements.
And in February, councillors agreed to review 'Part One' of the Local Plan, adopted in 2018 and focussing on housing allocations for the Farnham and Godalming areas, in an effort to meet this higher figure.
But Waverley’s executive is now recommending a comprehensive update of the entire Local Plan – including 'Part Two', covering housing in Haslemere and elsewhere – “without delay”.
Some opposition councillors have urged Waverley to delay a full update until detailed reforms to national planning policy are confirmed – with a suggestion housing targets could be scrapped entirely.
But councillors have been warned waiting for government reforms would be a “high-risk option”.
A report to next week’s Waverley full council meeting states: “The government is progressing legislation that will change the development plan system.
“However, there is uncertainty regarding the implementation of these reforms and to the approach to the assessment of local housing need.
“This uncertainty has resulted in many councils pausing or abandoning work on their Local Plans.
“This could result in extensive delays and would be a high-risk option for Waverley because speculative development proposals on unallocated sites will continue until the council can demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land.
“The update of the Local Plan is a means to regain control of housing requirements and to allocate appropriate sites within the context of an updated spatial strategy.”
It comes just a week after a government planning inspector overturned Waverley’s refusal of almost 150 homes in Waverley Lane, Farnham, after an eight-year planning battle on the grounds the homes were needed to meet the area’s housing target.
The recommendation to progress a comprehensive update of the Local Plan will go to the full council on July 18.