Stage One Hearings – Advice letter

The planning inspector has sent Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough council a letter, after the stage one hearing about the Borough plan. This note is focusing specifically with the Duty to Cooperate and some of the housing figures issues, and is not meant to be his findings for all of Stage 1


And the council has put out a press release spinning this as ‘everything is going well’. The plan now faces another 2-3 months of delay.

NBBC _ first_stage_approval_for_borough_plan

Duty to Cooperate

However, it is not that simple. On ‘Duty to Co-operate’ the council has been given the provisional OK. The inspector wrote “Overall, therefore, the evidence before me indicates that the legal duty to cooperate has been met.” but also said “I am not inviting responses from the Council or any other party on my initial judgement on the legal aspect of the Duty to Cooperate“. Given the council has accepted allocating numbers to buy off the objections from some other councils this is not surprising.

Housing Requirement and Supply Capacity

More interesting is what the inspector has written about the so called “robust” calculation of housing numbers. What the inspector has written is “Supply capacity has clearly been the key factor as to whether or not Nuneaton and Bedworth can meet its proposed share of the full housing need of the wider HMA over the period to 2011-2031. It remains for the Council to demonstrate, as a starting point, that there is a justified and effective housing land supply to meet the need for 14,060 dwellings in the Borough as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding, including the element of unmet need within the HMA.”
The council is also being asked to provide more evidence that the target is reasonable
It is also clear that when/if the hearings restart that the discussion on housing numbers is going to be ongoing and important.


Coventry’s fake population growth

It is shocking that almost everyone in Coventry and Warwickshire is believing the story of massive population growth in Coventry. It is a bit like the emperor’s new clothes. While it is clear that the population is growing and changing, there does not seem to be evidence that new populations are growing exponentially. There is a clear lack of extra new births in the city which were expected.  What is more the latest School applications data shows that the number of of children in reception year is falling sharply. The city council has put so much effort into selling the growth story that nothing is coming out about the decline in traditional families.

Falling births & falling school intakes

A report to the city council scrutiny panel in January 2016 {1} showed that the council education department was already expecting the admission to reception classes to drop in 2019. The latest school allocation document {2} implies that some 400 expected reception year pupils have vanished in just 1 year.

cov_reception_pupilsThe latest data for births is the maternity rate for Coventry & Warwickshire released as part of monitoring smoking of mothers {4}. This is slightly lower that number of births due to twins etc but is good to see the trend. The data does not take account of where the mother lives and will be impacted by some cross boarder births.

cw_maternaties_from_smokingNot only has the birth rate dropped but families are moving from Coventry to Warwickshire putting pressure on Primary schools in areas like the North & East of Nuneaton. This year almost every class in every primary school here is full. every_school_full

10,000 unused school places

But Coventry seems to have around 10,000 unused school places including about 670 unused in reception year {2}. In recent years primary school capacity seems to have been increased for a permanent rise in birth rates that has ended up as just as bump. Below is from the city council published key statistics.


Many of the cities secondary places will be used as the peak in birth rate works though the system. Capacity has been taken out with the merging of two schools but more may be needed done if the flow of families to Warwickshire continues.

Heading for 29 unused reception classes

Coventry city council latest forecast intake at reception shows a declining trend and real admissions data shows even less children were expected to start in September 2017. It also seems unlikely that intake will increase from 2021 as birth rates are still falling and even less under one year olds are on the October 2017 GP registers. There may be less than 4,000 children for the available 4865 reception school places in 2021.
(update just 4,155 reception year children were accepted for September 2018 with around 850 places unallocated)


We urgently need an honest reassessment of the population size and demographics in Coventry. We are looking at the birth rate being around 20% less than expected in the local plan. There is likely to be a serious error also in the 20-40 year old population which was expected to give rise to over 5,400 births this year. From teh data that has been published in 2017 it looks like in 2017 Coventry mothers will have around 4,300 births.

Coventry births & deaths, real & modelled


{1} Education and Children’s Services Scrutiny Board (2) – 7th January 2016

{2} Primary_school_admissions_booklet_2018.pdf – Sept 2017

{3} Primary_school_admissions_booklet_2017.pdf – Sept 2016

{4} Data on maternity “Statistics on Women’s Smoking Status at Time of Delivery, England – Quarter 1, 2017-18”

Right homes in the right places

On the 14th September the Government launched a consultation on local housing targets called  “Right homes in the right places”.

The Government calculated figure for Nuneaton and Bedworth under these proposals is for 420 homes a year between 2016 and 2026. This is considerably better than the council’s crazy proposals for 702 each year  plus making up for not building 702 each year between 2011 & 2017.


They are just proposals out to consultation at the moment and the do generate a crazy figure for Coventry that would need changing. There are serious errors in the estimates and forecasts for Coventry population due to the flow of international migrants and students. These are people  getting count in but only partly counted out, often many years after they have left.

We could have a far better plan if we were to restart or rewind the process to base it on 420 homes a year from 2016 to 2031. There would need a debate on taking homes from Coventry but this should be a evidenced based figure for the very end of the plan.

I will be looking at how best to respond to consultation and getting the Borough Council to restart its plan from better baseline.