A senior official has explained why Herefordshire needs to keep approving plans for large new housing estates in the county.

Herefordshire Council’s lead development manager Kevin Bishop was addressing a planning meeting today (September 28), which narrowly approved an outline plan for a 230-home development south of Hereford.

“To enable the council to continue to have a five-year land supply, it is sites such as these which must come forward,” he said.

Councils in charge of planning have to be able to show the Government they have enough land to build on to meet their commitments (which are, in part, imposed by the Government) to increase housing stock in the coming years.

Otherwise, they may be obliged to permit “speculative” developments on land not allocated for new housing in county or neighbourhood plans.


This year and last, Herefordshire has been able to demonstrate a housing land supply of over five years, which had not previously been the case since 2015.

But Mr Bishop pointed out: “We have already fallen down from a 6.9 to a 6.19-year land supply. That downward trajectory will come perilously close to five years, a position we have been in before which is perilous for the council and the county as a whole.

“Your adopted policies become out-of-date, and the precedent is given to granting more planning permissions, not less.”

He added that in Hereford’s case, “we have an identified need in the core strategy (the county’s main planning document) for 6,500 homes (by 2031), of which 1,900 have been completed and 845 are commitments (to build)”.

Coun Sebastian Bowen asked: “How many of these planning applications are fulfilled and unfulfilled? It seems mad to be (approving) a lot more houses when there's so much unbuilt housing.”

To which Mr Bishop said: “You can’t drag them to the table to build, I’m afraid.”

But he pointed out that it was not in the council’s interest to have a great many homes become available all at once, as this would then lower markedly the land supply figure.

And having a housing land supply of less than five years “means you have no control over planning applications”, committee chair Coun Terry James added.