Concerns about increased housing targets in a recent Government consultation have been raised directly with ministers by a delegation from Horsham and Mid Sussex.
‘Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places’ set out proposals to reform planning including standard methods for calculating local authorities’ housing need.
However local authorities have suggested the calculations would not take local factors into account such as environmental and infrastructure constraints.
Increased housing numbers would just cause underdelivery, leading to councils falling behind their targets, with even more permissions then being granted.
A delegation from West Sussex met Communities Secretary Sajid Javid last Tuesday to raise these concerns in person, which included the leaders of district councils in Mid Sussex and Horsham, as well as the area’s three MPs.
But Mr Javid said any new targets would be a base from which to work and not a final number, with councils retaining the ability to demonstrate factors that prevent delivery, while new measures would strengthen councils’ hands when dealing with developers.
Horsham MP Jeremy Quin said: “In common with every MP I meet constituents who are desperate to get a home locally of their own – to rent or buy. We need to ensure houses get built in the right places and are affordable.
“However we must recognise the local constraints on delivering new homes as well as the need for supporting infrastructure.”
Ray Dawe, leader of Horsham District Council, added: “Our local MPs and council leaders realise the need to deliver new homes for our residents. Horsham District Council has worked hard to achieve that but we also need to balance this with the new infrastructure and protection of our local environment.”
Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames took up the point on infrastructure, and said; “If we are to cope with the large number of houses that we are obliged to build the Government must make it possible through judicious and careful use of further infrastructure money to enable this to happen.
“This is, after all, what sustainable development is all about.”
Meanwhile Garry Wall, leader of Mid Sussex District Council, said: “I was grateful for the opportunity to talk directly to the Secretary of State about the importance of Government supporting councils and of developers delivering housing once permission has been granted.
“I think the case for more housing has been made, but we do need support from the Government to ensure community infrastructure comes too”.
Nick Herbert, Arundel and South Downs MP, added: “We all recognise the need for new homes, and our district councils have hugely increased housing numbers in recent years, but we need to ensure that the levels are sustainable and that we have the infrastructure to match.
“It’s also time that developers were prevented from gaming the system so that they actually build when they have planning permission. I welcome the Budget measures that address these issues.”