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“Hocus pocus” proposal is a formula for concreting rural Sussex

Pagam and Aldwick Greenfield Action Movement protest plans to build on farmland Pagam and Aldwick Greenfield Action Movement protest plans to build on farmland

CPRE Sussex is making a formal objection to the ‘mathematical trickery’ behind a new government paper which argues that the majority of new house building should be concentrated in the South-East of England.

The new proposal would see house building in rural Sussex increased by up to 40% while many urban areas and most communities in the North of England would see their housing targets fall.

The recommendations are based on a mathematical formula which the government argues will “address affordability” by factoring in existing local house prices. The resulting figures point to vast increases in the number of houses built in more lucrative areas, such as rural Sussex.

CPRE Sussex’s Dr Roger Smith says the maths behind the calculations is deeply flawed and is warning that the proposals would have a devastating impact on the Sussex countryside if they are adopted by the government:

“At first glance readers of the proposals might think the proposals therein are sensible because the stated intent is to use a standardized mathematical formula to determine house-building targets,” he explains. “However, on closer scrutiny, how these numbers, which differ in magnitude by 50,000, have been arrived at is not explained.  This omission is a fundamental flaw and the ‘method’ is in reality mathematical hocus pocus”

“All of this matters greatly for Horsham and Mid Sussex Districts because the proposed methodology would result in huge additions to their already excessive targets,” adds Dr Smith. “It would result in the loss of Horsham District’s five year housing land supply, with negative consequences for Neighbourhood Plans – and for essential infrastructure and services across the county, which is already overstretched.”

Under the new formula, much of the new housing would be concentrated in rural areas where existing prices are highest. This would mean building on unprotected green fields away from existing infrastructure.

CPRE’s Sussex’s Dr John Kay says the proposals won’t work for anyone:

“The current approach is doomed to fail,” he says. “It just isn't compatible with the business model of our market house builders, who will never build so many houses that the prices fall. That is their biggest operating risk, and a situation they will use every effort to avoid.”
 “What is needed is a mechanism to ensure the allocated and sustainable sites are actually delivered. There is nothing in these proposals to help. In fact this particular proposal would be counter-productive.”

The controversial formula is just one of a set of new proposals put forward by the Department for Communities and Local Government in a consultation document titled: ‘Planning for the Right homes and the right places.’

Consultation on the proposals will end at 11.45 on Thursday November 9.

See CPRE Sussex's response to the Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places consultation below.

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