Council ‘extremely concerned’ by proposed changes to the current planning system

PR2298/SB/MF - 01/10/2020

Mid Sussex District Council has written to Central Government to raise serious concerns about proposed changes to the current national planning system.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is currently consulting on ‘Changes to the current planning system’ and Mid Sussex District Council has responded to strongly object to some concerning aspects of the proposals, in particular:

  • The proposed standard method for assessing local housing need; and
  • The proposals to reduce delivery of Affordable Housing on smaller sites

Proposed changes to the methodology used to calculate housing need would see a huge increase in housing targets in the South of England. For Mid Sussex, this would increase already challenging house building targets from 1,114 dwellings per annum to 1,395 per annum.

Local councils that have taken significant growth in the past will be expected to take further growth in the future. Mid Sussex District Council strongly believes that this is not an accurate reflection of local housing need.

The future delivery of Affordable Housing for local people in Mid Sussex is also of significant concern. Currently developers are required to provide Affordable Housing on schemes with over 10 homes, but the proposed Government changes would see this threshold increased and only applied to developments with over 50 homes. Clearly this will have a significant impact on the number of new Affordable Homes that are available to support local people in housing need.

Councillor Andrew MacNaughton, Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning said:

“A standard method for calculating housing need has the potential to simplify the planning system, and this is welcomed, but the formula currently being proposed by the Government is fundamentally flawed.

“As a result of this formula, Mid Sussex will be expected to provide for unprecedented levels of growth in the future, beyond the already challenging housing requirement set by the Inspector of our District Plan. With suitable sites in our area in finite supply, particularly as we live in a rural area with more than 50% designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), this position is unsustainable.

“We currently have over 1,800 people waiting for Affordable Housing in our District. Those people are in serious housing need and are reliant on developers building Affordable Housing units as part of new developments, so they can finally have a place to call home. In 2019/20, 94% of planning applications for new housing in Mid Sussex were for developments below 50 units. Under the Government’s proposed changes, these developers would not have to provide any Affordable Housing for our local families who need it, and this is extremely concerning.”