Dear Eric – Open Letter : Wirral Housing Needs to 2033

Eric Gut

Mr. Eric Robinson, CE
Wirral Council, PO BOX 290
Brighton St., Wallasey CH27 9FQ 23.09.18

Dear Mr. Robinson

OPEN LETTER: WIRRAL HOUSING NEEDS TO 2033

As you have no doubt heard the government has updated the national and local population and household projections for the next 25 years (ONS website September 21st 2018). In the case of Wirral both the population growth and the household numbers growth have halved based on 2016 data. However you apply the numbers (for example by referencing back to your Litchfield Consultants report of 2016) the result is effectively the same. Instead of 12,000 houses over the fifteen year plan only ~5,900 are needed. Any attempts to ‘uplift’ this number based on now mythical economic growth scenarios, or affordability factors, or the later release of ‘pent up’ demand in certain age groups, will not be credible in the light of recent government economic forecasts. Indeed the credibility of the government housing needs methodology will now come under close scrutiny. I should also tell you that the latest population forecast growth to 2033 relies entirely on a large net migration into Wirral which your own consultants questioned in 2016. I expect the newly released numbers to be further challenged and actual Wirral future housing needs forecasts will be lower still (~4,400 based on current trends).
The housing implications are obvious. Some weeks ago I submitted an analysis to the public consultation which was also widely published. I enclose a copy. It works through several housing scenarios using brown field, Peel offers and empty house recovery assumptions for the 12,000 houses target and for that target simply scaled down by the changed population forecast (i.e. 7,100 houses). You can see that very little of your 4,900 acres proposed GB parcel release plan would be required. This land could support 71,000 houses. With the new government household growth forecasts the 15 year plan period housing needs drop to ~5,900. The effects of this are shown in the second document enclosed. Under most scenarios NO green belt land needs be used at all to meet housing needs. At most it would be a few percent of your 4,900 acre GB parcel release plan. The ‘plan’ is totally spurious and unjustified by the ‘official’ data.
In these circumstances I suggest the public consultation should be halted until the council makes the new housing need numbers clear to all Wirral residents and compares them honestly with your GB release plan proposals which in principle could accommodate 71,000 houses. It is not good enough for David Ball to tell public consultation meetings that the numbers will be looked at in camera, by a council appointed ‘expert’, ‘some time’ in the future. Alternatively the GB release plan could be withdrawn now before formal challenges to it emerge.

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

(Claremont Defenders Group)