New Government housing targets raise serious concerns
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has warned that new housing targets for the South East announced by the Government last week (17 July) raise “serious concerns”, especially over lack of local infrastructure.
The Government has launched a public consultation on the new targets which, if achieved, would see 74,600 houses built in West Sussex by 2026 - or 3,730 a year - its contribution towards 662,500 new houses for the South East.
The figures represent a significant increase on the original targets set out in the draft South East Plan, prepared by the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA), which proposed 58,000 new houses for West Sussex over the next 20 years. This number had already been increased to 64,100 by an independent Inspector appointed by the Government.
The figures for West Sussex are now 28.6 per cent higher than those put forward in the draft South East Plan, which were the result of detailed research and evidence gathering.
Most of the ‘additional' 10,000 new houses for West Sussex are to be built in the Shoreham Harbour ‘growth point' area. For the districts of Arun, Horsham and Chichester, the Government's new figures represent ‘no change' on those proposed by the Inspector.
However, it still remains unclear whether Arun could see an extra 5,000 houses if Ford is included on the final shortlist for an ‘eco-town' and the numbers are in addition to those in the Plan. Nick Herbert has written to the Housing Minister, Caroline Flint, to ask for clarification on this issue.
Other areas see a significant increase in allocated numbers. For Mid Sussex, the figures represent a further rise of 2,000 houses - from 15,100 to 17,100. The original figure for Mid Sussex, in the draft South East Plan, was 14,100.
Nick Herbert commented: "I think people accept the need for more affordable homes, but the scale of these increased numbers is a serious concern. While the Government imposes its targets from the top, huge questions remain unanswered. With congested roads, regular water shortages and the downgrading of our hospitals, how is our local infrastructure going to cope with such increases?
"Won't this additional housing mean that we've got to build on greenfield sites, not just on brownfield land? What will be the impact on the character of our rural communities? And is there actually a market, now, for housebuilding on this scale?
"Accommodating these numbers is going to require our local councils to take some difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions about the sites. I believe that the guiding principle should be that our elected local councils should decide on these housing issues - not Ministers or remote officials in Whitehall."
Notes for Editors
1. For the news release from the Government Office for the South East (GOSE), visit http://www.gose.gov.uk/497648/docs/167059/rss08Release.pdf
2. The public consultation ends on 24 October 2008. Responses should be sent to the Regional Spatial Strategy Team, Government Office for the South East, Bridge House, 1 Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, GU1 4GA (e-mail email@example.com).
3. For the news release from the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA), visit http://www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/releases.php?news_id=42