MP: Planning Inspector's proposals "totally unrealistic"
Commenting on the Inspector’s interim conclusions on the housing requirement for the Mid Sussex District Plan, published yesterday (20 February), Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert said:
“I am astonished that the Inspector can conclude that this housing number is sustainable. The increase is far too great and fails to take into account local infrastructure constraints and the impact on the countryside, both of which should be considered. I simply cannot see how this level of new housing can be supported when we already have acute pressure on local public services, including a totally inadequate rail service.
“I am also deeply concerned about the impact on village neighbourhood plans, and I question whether housing numbers on this scale can actually be delivered. The Inspector should reconsider these numbers and properly take into account the genuine constraints on development.
“We accepted that the housing number would go up, and there is a local need which must be met, but these proposals are totally unrealistic and go too far."
In an article for the CPRE Sussex Review this week, Nick Herbert says that he will join a “battle for the countryside”. He writes:
"In the small towns and villages of my constituency, local infrastructure is already inadequate, reflected for instance by oversubscribed local schools and extended GP waiting lists. Random development has exacerbated these problems, and construction is eroding the green space between villages, leading to the slow suburbanisation of once-rural areas. Yet young people face the unfairness of high rents and property prices that are completely out of their reach.
"One idea is to build new towns rather than extend villages, but these must have local support. The proposed Mayfield new town near Henfield is the worst example of a poorly located scheme that is rightly opposed by every local council. The plan has blighted local properties while its promoters have persistently sought to overturn local plans in an attempt to insinuate their own proposal. It is the wrong way to get the housing we need."
Mid Sussex District Council had proposed a housing requirement of 13,600 dwellings, at an average rate of 800 dwellings per annum. However the Inspector said that no environmental or infrastructure constraints would offset the District’s housing requirement, which would be added to Crawley’s unmet need. He concluded:
"I consider that both the full [Objectively Assessed Need] of 876 [dwellings per annum] dpa and 150 [dwellings per annum] of Crawley’s unmet need can and should be accommodated in the District Plan, and that this can be achieved sustainably without conflicting with policies in the Framework. The evidence also demonstrates that the market can sustain such figures.
"That leads to a minimum housing requirement for the plan period of 1,026 [dwellings per annum], or 17,442 dwellings over the 17 year life of the plan."
About a quarter of Nick Herbert’s Arundel & South Downs constituency falls within the Mid Sussex District, including the villages of Hurstpierpoint and Hassocks.
1. Link to Inspector's letter: http://www.midsussex.gov.uk/media/78962/id11_inspectorsinterimletterhousing20217.pdf
2. Link to Nick’s CPRE article: http://www.cpresussex.org.uk/resources/cpre/item/2797-cpre-sussex-review-winter-spring-2017