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Hocus pocus targets make the countryside vulnerable

Thursday, 24 January 2019 11:05

Letter published by the West Sussex County Times 24 January 2019


Our countryside made vulnerable to large-scale development by Government policies

Horsham District Council’s review of the local plan is in progress and to calculate what the new house- building target should be the Council must use the Government’s new formula-based method, which by means of hocus pocus with numbers has been rigged to achieve an-over England target of at least 300,000 new homes per year.

This means that Horsham’s current target of 800 houses per year will be increased to a base-line number of around 910 houses per year, plus a proportion of Crawley Borough’s unmet need (currently 150 per year), plus perhaps, too, the unmet needs of other Councils. Therefore an annual target in excess of 1,000 houses per year, subject to further increases in the future.

As part of the review process, Horsham District Council has to identify strategic sites with the capacity to accommodate a hugely inflated house-building target.

Hence the Council’s advice to the WSCT (WSCT 15/01/19) that “a number of developers seeking to carry out large-scale developments had sought detailed discussion with the planning department”, including Market Mayfield Towns (MMT), which is again seeking approval for its proposal to build 10,000 new houses on countryside between Sayers Common and Henfield.

MPs Sir Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex) and Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) have condemned MMT for doing so (WSCT 15/01/19).

However, in reality, the countryside targeted by MMT– and the countryside across Horsham District and beyond, including Arun and Mid Sussex Districts, has been deliberately made vulnerable to large-scale development by Government policies, including the new and rigged formula-based method for calculating house-building targets, and the Government’s spurious narrative that Councils are to blame when developers reduce build rates to maintain profit margins thereby jeopardising housing supply and delivery requirements.

Accordingly, in order to defend our countryside and communities against MMT and their ilk, Sir Nicholas Soames and Nick Herbert will need to challenge these policies in Parliament. After all, the Government is accountable to Parliament and it is the Government’s policies that have put the interests of developers before communities.

Yours faithfully,

Dr R F Smith
Trustee CPRE Sussex

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