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West Sussex County Times: "What does housing white paper mean for Sussex?"

In an article published on 8 Feb 2017 the West Sussex Country Times writes: "Campaigners have warned that the government's white paper to 'fix the housing market' could jeopardise Sussex's unprotected countryside.

The article quotes Kia Trainor, director of CPRE Sussex, who told the paper: " “We have concerns about whether the proposed measures to tackle land banking go far enough and we feel that the new measures to ‘hold local authorities to account through a new housing delivery test’ will just place additional burdens on local authorities.”

CPRE Sussex, it said, also believes the white paper is wrong to blame local authorities for the housing crisis. Roger Smith, CPRE Sussex trustee, explained: “The true culprits are the developers and - historically - the financial crash back in 2008. “The real reason some authorities still don’t have a plan in place is because their efforts have been aggressively undermined by speculative developers.”

An example of this was the Mid Sussex Local Plan which was set back by three years when the developers challenged it on a technicality called the ‘duty to cooperate’, while developers are currently slowing down the examination hearings scrutinising the plan by repeatedly challenging the district council over objectively assessed housing need.

On the issue of land banking the white paper acknowledges that more than a third of planing permissions granted between 2010/11 and 2015/16 have yet to be built and includes guidance encouraging local authorities to use compulsory purchase powers. But Dr Smith argues the white paper offers too little too late, adding: “The findings from the Civitas report, ‘Planning approvals vs Housebuilding activity, 2006-2015’ are omitted from the white paper.

“The report found that of the 2,035,835 new homes granted permission by local authorities over the period, only 1,261,350 have been started and that this huge shortfall has accumulated because house-builders and developers are hoarding permissions in order to push-up house prices and profits.”

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