An ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stance

West Sussex County Times - - Opinion -

Cllr Vick­ers, in her let­ter ‘Must con­tinue mak­ing a plan’ (WSCT, July 2), ad­vises that Hor­sham District Coun­cil (HDC) ‘will con­tinue to chal­lenge the ba­sis of the stan­dard method­ol­ogy, but it is too sim­plis­tic to as­sume that we can ig­nore it and ar­bi­trar­ily set a lower hous­ing tar­get’.

For the sake of our district, Cllr Vick­ers, and those who ad­vise her, re­ally should read and com­pre­hend the ‘Guid­ance: Hous­ing and Eco­nomic Needs As­sess­ment, guides coun­cils in how to as­sess their hous­ing needs’, is­sued by the Min­istry of Hous­ing, Com­mu­ni­ties and Local Gov­ern­ment.

As ex­plained pre­vi­ously through the pages of WSCT (June 11 and 25), the guid­ance states that us­age of the for­mula-based Stan­dard Method is ‘not manda­tory’, ‘if it is felt that cir­cum­stances war­rant an al­ter­na­tive ap­proach’, with the caveat ‘that any other method will be used only in ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances’ (para­graph 003 ref­er­ence ID: 2a-0032019022­0).

Af­ter all, the Covid-19 pan­demic and re­sul­tant re­ces­sion, which Chan­cel­lor Rishi Su­nak has ad­vised is ‘a re­ces­sion the likes of which we have not seen’, is an ‘ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stance’ that most cer­tainly war­rants an al­ter­na­tive ap­proach and method to de­ter­mine the district’s ‘gen­uine hous­ing need’.

More­over, HDC ac­knowl­edges in its Draft District Local Plan (para­graph 6.16) that it ‘does not have any di­rect con­trol over hous­ing de­liv­ery rates’, and that there is ‘no guar­an­tee that there will not be is­sues out­side our con­trol (such as a na­tional eco­nomic down­turn) which

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