Letter: Have Sussex MPs and Councillors examined the planning ‘reforms’?
Letter published by the West Sussex Gazette, 16 September 2020
Have Sussex’s MPs, and Councillors closely examined the ‘reforms’ proposed in the Government’s ‘Changes to the current planning system, consultation on changes to planning policy and regulations’ (closes 1 October) and ‘Planning for the Future, White Paper’ consultation (closes 29 October)?
Have they considered what the consequences would be for communities, the countryside, and the natural environment, if these draconian reforms were to be implemented?
Do they understand the workings of the Government’s proposed new method for calculating housing targets, which if adopted would result in huge and unprecedented housing targets across Sussex?
Mr Andrew Griffith MP (Arundel & South Downs) has examined the new method and found it to be fundamentally flawed – “a ‘mutant algorithm’ cooked up in the wet market of Whitehall” (House of Commons adjournment debate: Housing Developments: West Sussex, 7/09/20), but has he examined the other proposals with equal care?
Are MPs including Mr Griffith, and Councillors aware that the Government’s proposals, if adopted, would reduce, not increase, the delivery of ‘affordable’ homes?
Are they aware that outside of ‘Protected Areas’ the proposals will undermine local democracy and marginalise councils? That areas identified for ‘substantial development’ would be designated ‘Growth Areas’ with automatic approval for development, and placed under the control of ‘Development Corporations’ – Government appointed quangos that would not be accountable to communities?
Have they considered that development without site specific surveys would have catastrophic consequences for flora, fauna, and biodiversity?
Would they agree that the proposals are fundamentally flawed because they neither acknowledge nor address the reality that developers and housebuilders will not build more houses than can be sold at an acceptable-to-them profit, and in the event of diminishing sales will reduce build-rates regardless of targets set by the Government?
Are they not concerned that rather than challenge and call to account developers/builders when they reduce build-rates, the Government is blaming and seeking instead to punish councils and communities, on the totally false premise that they, not developers are responsible for shortfalls against targets – by disempowering them? Which is what the proposals will do, if adopted.
Dr R F Smith
Trustee CPRE Sussex