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Letter: Have your say on destructive ‘reforms’

31st August 2020

Letter published by the West Sussex Gazette, 26 August 2020


Have your say on destructive ‘reforms’

On 6 August, the Government released for consultation (closing 29 October) its ‘Planning for the Future’, White Paper, the purpose of which is to increase exponentially the building of new homes by scrapping the existing planning system, and contrary to statements by Secretary of State Robert Jenrick MP, minimizing the role of communities and their elected representatives in decision taking.

This contentious White Paper and the draconian measures ‘proposed’ therein are seriously flawed. Seriously flawed, because the authors neither acknowledge nor address the fundamental reality that developers/ 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 for councils.

Released by the Government on the same day for consultation (closing 1 October), but without publicity, is the equally contentious ‘Changes to the current planning system. Consultation on changes to planning policy and regulations’, including changes to the ‘Standard Method for assessing housing numbers in strategic plans’.

Use of the Government’s proposed new method would increase current local plan housing targets for Adur from 177 to 326pa, Arun from 1,000 to 2,063 pa, Chichester from 435 to 1,120pa, Crawley from 340 to 598pa, Horsham from 800 to 1,715pa, Mid Sussex from 964 to 1,306 pa and Worthing from 200 to 871pa, thereby increasing West Sussex’s overall annual target by 3168 houses (from 3,116 to 6,284pa), an increase of 202%.

This would have huge ramifications for West Sussex, because having to accommodate these hugely increased targets would result in extensive areas of countryside outside of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the South Downs National Park being designated ‘Growth Areas’, ‘for substantial development’, controlled by Government-appointed ‘Development Corporations’, with automatic approval for development, as proposed in the ‘Planning for the Future’ consultation White Paper.

I urge all who care for the future of Sussex, its communities, countryside and natural environment, to examine the Government’s proposals and respond to these pivotal consultations.

Yours faithfully,

Dr R F Smith
Trustee CPRE Sussex

‘Planning for the Future White Paper’ closing 28 October (some confusion by MHCLG as to whether 28 or 29 October).

‘Changes to the current planning system Consultation on changes to planning policy and regulations’ closing 1 October.