COUNCILLORS are hailing a milestone being reached in the battle against unwanted development.

A key requirement for councils wanting to oppose development in areas they consider unsuitable is being able to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land.

The requirement is set out by the Government in its National Planning Policy Framework and is designed to help boost the supply of new housing across the country.

But areas that cannot demonstrate a five-year supply have commonly found themselves subject to speculative applications and planning appeals if applications are refused.

Latest figures for the Stratford District Council area suggest there are now 3,951 new homes in the pipeline - the equivalent of 5.4 years supply.

Councillor Chris Saint, leader of StratfordDistrict Council, said: “We have reached an important milestone.

"We understand the need to provide suitable sites for new homes, but developers should no longer be able to promote sites that are at odds with the council’s favoured approach.

"Many have sadly secured permissions, contrary to local wishes, because in appeal cases the planning inspectors have given significant weight to the five-year supply issue, and given less weight to local concerns about aspects of sustainability.

"Whilst acknowledging that we need to maintain a five-year supply of land, securing it puts the district council in a stronger place to argue for more sustainable forms of development.

"We know that local communities are much more supportive of smaller scale organic growth in our towns and villages.”