Letter: Proposed planning system will fail us. What do our MPs say?

14th October 2020

Letter published by the West Sussex Gazette, 14 October 2020

Sir,

The Governments proposed new planning system will deliver fewer, not more affordable homes.  What say Sussex’s MPs?

According to the Government their proposed new planning system “will mean more good quality, attractive and affordable homes can be built faster – and more young families can have the key to their own home” (MHCLG Guidance: Planning for the future explained, 6/08/20).

However, to support small and medium sized builders as the economy recovers, the Government’s new planning system would for an “INITIAL period of 18 months”, raise the small sites threshold, “below which developers are not required to deliver affordable homes to up to 40 or 50 units”..

Have MPs considered what the resulting shortfall in the delivery of affordable homes would be, and the consequences for families in their constituencies?  Have they consulted with Councils? They really should.

Of concern, too, is the revealing statement in the ‘Planning for the future’, White Paper (consultation closes 28 October), page 22, “We will aim for the new Levy to raise more revenue than under the current system of developer contributions and deliver AT LEAST AS MUCH – if not more – on-site affordable housing as at present”, and at page 64, “It is important that the reformed approach will continue to deliver on-site affordable housing AT LEAST AT PRESENT LEVELS”.

‘At LEAST AS MUCH’ and ‘AT LEAST AT PRESENT LEVELS’ should cause alarm bells to ring because under the current system government policies enable developers, on grounds of financial viability, to deliver fewer affordable homes than is required by local plan policies, hence the present substantial and shaming undersupply of affordable homes, including affordable renters.

The Governments proposed new planning system will deliver fewer, not more affordable homes.  What say Sussex’s MPs?

Yours faithfully,

Dr R F Smith
Trustee CPRE Sussex