Chichester District Council has written to the Government urging it to reconsider the way it calculates housing targets under its proposed changes to the current planning system, planning policy and regulations.
The Government has announced plans for upcoming changes to the planning system in England, and is currently consulting on this until 1 October 2020.
In particular, it is seeking views on four main topics:
- Changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need;
- Rules for a new type of housing product called First Homes;
- Removing the need for many housing sites to deliver affordable housing; and
- Extending an alternative to the planning application process, allowing developers to apply for ‘permission in principle’ for major development.
“While there are some interesting proposals within the Government’s recommendations, our main concern is around the way it is proposing to assess local housing need,” says Cllr Susan Taylor, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning at Chichester District Council.
“We believe that the Government should take account of wider issues, such as landscape and the environment, which are discussed in the Government’s separate Planning White Paper, before implementing these changes.
“Under the proposals, the figures for Chichester District would rise as a whole from 753 under the existing method to 1,120 homes per year. This will place significant pressure on the parts of the district that fall outside of the National Park, and which are included within our emerging Local Plan.
“While we are still working hard to deliver the Local Plan Review as quickly as we can, we are very concerned about the Government’s proposals and what these could potentially mean to our district in the long-term.
“While we fully understand the need to provide more housing and get the economy moving, we feel that the Government’s proposed approach would be damaging to our area and the country as a whole.
“Planning authorities currently consider the whole picture, from how we move around areas; how we can achieve higher environmental standards; how we can encourage healthy lifestyles; how we can protect our environment and wildlife; as well as carefully considering where development should be placed. The Government’s proposals don’t appear to provide enough consideration for these important factors.
“For now, our focus is to continue to push forward with the Local Plan Review. We will keep our residents updated as things progress and make them aware of any feedback that we receive from the Government.”
The Government is also consulting on its Planning White Paper, which is looking at long-term changes to the planning system. This suggests reforms that include redrawing local plans produced by the Local Planning Authority so that land would fall into only one of three categories: growth, renewal or protected.
Outline planning approval would be automatically secured for areas categorised for growth. Some development would be allowed in renewal areas, but it would be restricted in protected zones. Local authorities would also be bound by a new national requirement for the number of new homes built in their areas. This is something that the council is currently reviewing.
The council’s full consultation response can be viewed at: www.chichester.gov.uk/governmentconsultations