COMMUNITIES are back in a vulnerable position unable to fight developments after the Government “moved the goalposts”, it has been claimed.

Tendring Council has been using the fact it can demonstrate a five-year land supply to fight controversial housing bids in the district.

But the way the housing supply can be calculated has changed, meaning Tendring no longer has enough new-build developments approved to fulfil the legal requirement.

Neil Stock, leader of Tendring Council, is set to write to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, branding the change as “disastrous”.

He said: “Government has essentially moved the goalposts by doing away with an alternative method of calculating future housing need.

“This recognised alternative method – and the figure of 550 new homes per year it produces was approved by an independent planning inspector during last summer’s examination of our Local Plan, recognising the unique position Tendring faces with regard to population growth.

“Despite his endorsement, we are now forced to determine planning applications as if Tendring’s need was 850 homes per year.

“This will continue until our Local Plan is formally adopted, and in the meantime has a knock-on effect on our five-year housing supply.

“This is a perverse situation, with local planning decisions facing being taken to appeal and rational, accountable decisions potentially overturned on the basis of the temporary higher allocation.

“That is why I have asked our officers to draft a letter for me to send to the Secretary of State expressing in no uncertain terms the disastrous implications of this revision brings for Tendring’s communities.”

The revised national planning policy framework published by the Government changed the way housing need in the area was calculated. It will be in force until the Local Plan, which will guide where homes are built and job opportunities are created until 2033, is officially approved.

The last Local Plan was due to be replaced in 2011, but its replacement has suffered a series of delays.

Parish councillor Martin Rayner said the change in rules puts communities under considerable pressure.

He said: “As Tendring Council has not yet got an approved Local Plan we are vulnerable to predatory land agents putting in for developments on land that would normally fall outside the agreed village envelopes.

“Tendring’s planning committee may reject them but then they go to appeal where an inspector who has no connection with the area rules on the technicalities of the case.

“We thought at last we were safe from this.”