Monday, November 9, 2020

Housing - it's a numbers game

One of the biggest challenges that Bob & I face in the next few months is our response to the developing Horsham District Local Plan.  This has already been out to public consultation (the  'Regulation 18' stage, now closed) and much work is being done by the officers (HDC employees) to reflect the massive number of comments.  

Some aspects of the current local plan (Horsham District Planning Framework 2015- 2020), in particular the housebuilding target ('800 homes per year'), cease to be valid by the end of this November (basically those that contradict the current National Planning Policy Framework), although many of the policies remain.  This housing target was calculated from a local analysis of the housing need to 'allow for increases in population, support economic growth, and also to support the wider economy of the Gatwick Diamond and beyond'.

The new minimum for housebuilding (as calculated by the now mandatory central government 'standard method') will be 920pa, plus 5%, plus an estimated 200 to 400 from our 'duty to cooperate' with surrounding local authorities that are 'running out of room to build'.  To put this in context, there were just over 55,000 households in Horsham District at the time of the last (2011) census; roughly 60,000 now.  If we assume a figure of 1200 per annum, the next decade would see an additional 12,000 dwellings built - an increase of 20% - against an Office for National Statistics (ONS) prediction of 12.5% population growth!

Does that sound bad?  Well how does 1715 dwellings pa grab you?  That's the number that the so-called 'mutant algorithm' contained in the government's 'Changes to the current planning system' consultation (now closed) would require.  I've been told that these changes are subject to a ministerial decision, not a parliamentary debate, although many local MP's have spoken against the proposed changes.  A decision is expected in December.

All this leaves Horsham DC with a bit of a problem, to put it mildly!  The current majority approach appears to be to get the current draft plan, with its already excessive (in my view) numbers submitted to external examination by March 2021, which should 'protect' it from the proposed changes to the planning system numbers for 3 years (provided it passes examination and is subsequently adopted by HDC).  Having no plan at all does not sound a sensible way to go, if HDC is to retain any control over development, as it would lead to 'planning by appeal' with the council constantly on the back foot, with no overriding plan to draw on. 

Perhaps what we really need is for us all to check the back of our wardrobes for a 'Land in Nania' site, with infinite capacity...  Do let us know if you find one!  We'd also welcome more constructive suggestions!  

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Garden Survey

We're happy to support Greening Steyning's garden survey, which is part of the 2030 Vision project.

So if you live in the Beeding, Bramber and Steyning area, please take part in the survey to enable the project to develop 'ways of turning all your gardens, all our streets into rich wildlife areas which are good not just for biodiversity but for everyone who lives there'.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Changes to the Planning System

Mike and I have had several emails from members of the Wildlife Trusts expressing concerns about the Government's White Paper on the Planning System.  Last week we attended a meeting at which councillors had a chance to comment on the Council's response to the Consultation before it closed.  Among the issues raised were the impact the proposals would have on wildlife and biodiversity, lack of mention of Green Spaces and biodiversity in the proposals for 'Growth' and 'Renewal' areas.  The proposals would also undermine local democratic input into the planning process.  Mike and I raised these points in our comments.

The White Paper is full of half-baked ideas, not just restricted to wildlife and biodiversity.  One of the underlying assumptions is that the failure to build enough houses is due to Local Authorities' management of the planning system.  In fact their are over one million houses which have approval, but have not been built yet.  HDC's response is full of hard-hitting, constructive criticism.  I hope the Governmant takes notice.  HDC has a good record of an efficient planning department and has over- delivered on its housing target.  Perhaps the Government will take this into account and give extra weight to their comments..

HDC's response has a number of references to 'Green' issues.  For instances in response to the question: 'What are the top three priorities for planning in your area? ' No.2 is Addressing Climate Change, No.3 is Protecting and Enhancing biodiversity.  Wildlife, biodiversity and green space come up in all the relevant responses.  

If you want to see the full response you can find it on HDC's website by following this link: HDC reponse to Planning White Paper

Why 20 is Plenty for Steyning (and Bramber)

By now, anyone living in the parish of Steyning, or those parts of Bramber potentially affected, will have received a paper survey asking fo...