Most of Sussex fails the housing delivery test

1st March 2019

Letter published in the West Sussex County Times 28 February 2019: “Those who govern us have chosen to ignore this reality and are instead blaming and punishing councils and communities.”

Sir,

Majority of Sussex’s local planning authorities fail Housing Delivery Test: implications and consequences

Only six of Sussex’s 13 local planning authorities have passed the Government’s Housing Delivery Test, the results of which were published 19 February. They are Horsham, Crawley, Mid Sussex, Chichester, Wealden and Hastings.

Those that have failed must now increase their house-building targets and identify sites to accommodate the additional houses.

Brighton & Hove and Adur, which failed the test, do not have the capacity to accommodate existing imposed targets. Any additional housing will therefore be offloaded to other local authorities, probably Horsham, Mid Sussex and Arun, under the ‘Duty to Cooperate’.

Note, too, that where a planning authority fails the Test, communities with Neighbourhood Plans more than two years old are especially vulnerable to developer-imposed house-building.

Arun District failed and the district has 14 communities with Neighbourhood Plans that are more than two years old, increasing to 15 in March. The consequences for these communities, which are now without protection, are likely to be catastrophic.

All of this is inequitable because whether a council passes or fails the test is dependent on the performance of developers and house-builders over the previous three years.

Developers and house-builders will not build more houses than can be sold at an acceptable-to-them profit – and housing delivery rates are therefore dependent on the health of the wider economy, as is acknowledged in the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts’ report: ‘Housing: State of the Nation’, 24 Apr 17.

Those who govern us have chosen to ignore this reality and are instead blaming and punishing councils and communities when developers reduce build rates – and targets are not met in consequence,

By imposing the Housing Delivery Test, presumably at the behest of developers, politicians at Westminster have deliberately set-up councils to fail.

This should be an issue at the next General Election.

Yours faithfully.

Dr Roger F Smith
Trustee CPRE Sussex