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Gatwick Airport second runway application: housing provision issues

26th April 2024

The Planning Inspectors looking at the Gatwick proposal recently asked a series of questions for the applicant (and anyone else) to respond to, including: “Has any assessment been undertaken in respect of the future baseline and housing provision? If not, please explain why not.”

CPRE Sussex is pleased to respond to the question on housing provision. This is a critical issue in terms of the impact on the wider Sussex and Surrey areas, and we note analysis by CAGNE showing that the thousands of jobs that Gatwick claims will be delivered by their proposal are unlikely to be completely fulfilled by existing residents of the surrounding area.

The question of where new workers, many in low-income roles, could be housed is under-explored in the applicant’s proposal. The districts around Gatwick are already experiencing a crisis of housing affordability; Crawley District Council recently declared a ‘housing emergency’.

The districts of Crawley, Horsham, Lewes, Mid Sussex, Mole Valley, Reigate and Bansted, Tandridge, Tonbridge and Malling, and Tunbridge Wells, reported homeless figures of over 1500 between them in 2022-23, and social housing waiting lists of around 6000 in 2023. Total affordable homes completions in 2021-22 (the latest year for which we have data) were only just over 1000, of which homes for social rent were only a couple of hundred.

Local residents are already struggling to afford housing costs, and there is very limited new affordable housing being created. Given the constraints of National Landscapes, protected sites, biodiversity, water neutrality, etc, as well as the need to preserve our countryside more widely, there is limited scope for the volumes of housebuilding that would make a material impact on affordability, were it even in the interests of developers to provide it.

As such, the proposal is likely to make pressures on housing affordability even worse, even while it increases pressure for development on our precious rural landscapes.

At the very least, a credible modelling of the impact of the proposal on local housing markets must be shared, covering impacts on affordability and development pressure on the surrounding authorities.

See data for homelessness around Gatwick Airport, social housing waiting list 2000-2023, social rent completions and affordable housing completions: Homelessness and affordable housing near Gatwick Airport

Read: Press release Gatwick Airport Housing Pressure