Should hous­ing quo­tas be ques­tioned?

West Sussex County Times - - Opinion -

To sat­isfy the ap­par­ent needs of an ever-grow­ing pop­u­la­tion, the Gov­ern­ment has promised to con­struct 300,000 new homes per an­num by the mid 2020s. Is this a re­al­is­tic fig­ure which ac­cu­rately takes into ac­count any pop­u­la­tion in­crease, or va­cant prop­er­ties, due to deaths in the pop­u­la­tion? I fear not! Fur­ther­more, in its man­i­festo, the Con­ser­va­tives promised to review the pro­vi­sion of jobs and up­grad­ing of the trans­port sys­tem in the north of the coun­try. How­ever, I do not be­lieve that this is re­flected in the ap­par­ent spread of new build across the coun­try. As ever, the south be­comes the loser, hav­ing to shoul­der re­spon­si­bil­ity for build­ing the ma­jor­ity of new homes re­quired by the Gov­ern­ment. As a con­se­quence, both the in­fra­struc­ture and ca­pac­ity of ser­vices in the south, which are al­ready creak­ing un­der ex­ist­ing de­mands will re­quire a rad­i­cal up­grade as ad­di­tional hous­ing will only add to the prob­lem.

The Gov­ern­ment rec­om­mends that around 35 per cent af­ford­able hous­ing be pro­vided on new projects. On an an­nual out­put of 300,000 homes this would amount to 105,000 af­ford­able dwellings. How­ever, this per­cent­age is rarely achieved, the fig­ure na­tion­ally be­ing nearer to 20 per cent.

In the case of the Le­gal and Gen­eral site Land North of Hor­sham, Hor­sham District Coun­cil has agreed a per­cent­age to nearer 18 per cent for ‘tra­di­tional af­ford­able’ hous­ing, which is in no way ac­cept­able. Strangely, HDC has even ac­cepted that they would never ask for more than 23 per cent on this site, even if vi­a­bil­ity cal­cu­la­tions per­mit­ted. Why?

Devel­op­ments con­tinue apace in our district. The prob­lem is un­doubt­edly ex­ac­er­bated by Hor­sham District Coun­cil hav­ing to pin­point suit­able sites for pro­posed res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment in the cur­rent review of the Hor­sham District Plan­ning Frame­work (HDPF) – a

Gov­ern­ment re­quire­ment, and one which will un­doubt­edly feed the needs of hun­gry de­vel­op­ers.

How­ever, it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the local au­thor­ity to cal­cu­late the num­ber of prop­er­ties that will be re­quired, to sat­isfy Gov­ern­ment di­rec­tives, us­ing a for­mula devel­oped by them.

Orig­i­nally Hor­sham District Coun­cil ad­vo­cated some 910 houses per an­num, be­ing the fig­ure achieved by ap­ply­ing the 40 per cent Na­tional Plan­ning Pol­icy Frame­work (NPPF) cap to the cal­cu­la­tions, as per Gov­ern­ment guid­ance.

For some in­ex­pli­ca­ble rea­son this fig­ure has risen to 965 units. This is made up of two com­po­nents – 600 units based upon the local pop­u­la­tion pro­jec­tions, plus 365 units be­ing an ad­just­ment for ‘af­ford­abil­ity’ by ‘over sup­ply’. If this in­crease is due to Gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion, why do Hor­sham District Coun­cil not ap­ply the 40 per cent cap to the cal­cu­la­tions, re­sult­ing in the lower fig­ure of 910 houses per an­num and be pre­pared to jus­tify the cal­cu­la­tions to the Plan­ning In­spec­torate?

To make mat­ters worse, in or­der to sat­isfy Gov­ern­ment re­quire­ments, it is pos­si­ble that Hor­sham District Coun­cil will have to pro­vide ad­di­tional homes in ex­cess of their agreed quota, in ac­cor­dance with a ‘duty to co-op­er­ate’, where ad­ja­cent local au­thor­i­ties are un­able to meet their sup­ply re­quire­ments!

Pro­pos­als by Hor­sham District Coun­cil to de­velop green­field sites such as Rook­wood can only fuel di­rec­tives from the Gov­ern­ment to de­velop more hous­ing. If the coun­cil­lors and their of­fi­cers do not be­come more proac­tive and ques­tion and ap­peal di­rec­tives from the Gov­ern­ment, our district will rapidly be­come a con­crete jun­gle, de­void of any green field ar­eas and coun­try­side which we can en­joy.

Coun­cil­lors are only in post at the be­hest of the elec­torate, so per­haps they should lis­ten to our con­cerns.

Sim­i­larly, our local MP – Jeremy Quin – should be proac­tive and as­sist with our con­cerns.

The Hor­sham So­ci­ety is con­cerned about the past, present and fu­ture of the town. It seeks to pro­mote good plan­ning and de­sign for the built en­vi­ron­ment and open spa­ces. Mem­ber­ship of the Hor­sham So­ci­ety is open to any­one who shares th­ese con­cerns. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit the web­site www.hor­sham­so­ci­ or

phone 01403 267712

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