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Sussex Councils betrayed by new planning laws, says CPRE Sussex

25th July 2018

CPRE Sussex is warning that the Government’s new planning rules (NPPF) published on 24 July 2018, will make it more difficult than ever to protect some of Sussex’s most beautiful countryside.

CPRE Sussex says rural Sussex is now facing an unprecedented threat due to a mistaken belief by the government that local councils are to blame for the housing shortage. In reality, says the Campaign, slow ‘build-out rates’ are at the root of the shortage. CPRE Sussex is now warning that the new revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will not address the lack of affordable housing and will cause irreparable damage to the Sussex landscape.

Under the new guidelines councils are in danger of losing control over local planning if they fail to pass a ‘housing delivery test’. The number of houses they have to deliver to pass this test is based on a new standard method for assessing housing need which would force many Sussex councils to set unattainably high targets either immediately or in the near future.

In November, Horsham Council described the method – known as ‘Standardised Methodology’- as “the perfect storm”. Under the rules the district, which is reviewing its Plan this year, faces an immediate 40% increase in its housing targets.

“The new housing delivery test will force councils to keep allocating more green field sites when developers do not build homes quickly enough,” warns CPRE Sussex Director, Kia Trainor. “It will put our countryside at risk and leave local communities frustrated and angry.”

“The Government’s misdirected new guidelines are indicative of the extent to which developers are able to influence planning policies,” says CPRE Sussex Trustee, Dr Roger Smith. “Council’s continue to be blamed when developers under-deliver against targets, and the ‘presumption in favour’ is invoked to enable these same developers to impose development on communities. “This tilted balance is wrong for our communities, for people needing affordable homes and for the natural environment and our wildlife”. CPRE Sussex is concerned that the new NPPF gives too much control to developers – failing to curb speculative development in the countryside, slow build rates and the problem of empty and underused homes. The campaign is also warning that the new planning rules contain a loophole which could soon spell the end for many of the county’s hard worked Neighbourhood Plans.

“Rather than delivering ‘what communities want’ as the Minister for Housing and communities, Mr Brokenshire claims” says Dr Smith, “the new planning rules will result in many neighbourhood plans becoming out of date within two years.

“Without an up to date Neighbourhood Plan local communities will have no control whatsoever over the location and type of development – the wishes of local people will count for nothing. Their needs and wishes will be ignored and irreplaceable countryside will be lost to the benefit of fat cat developers”.

The CPRE national response criticising the new NPPF is at: