An exceptional circumstance
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