There are many concerns with the Government’s ‘Planning for the Future’ white paper as it currently stands, particularly with regards to the new algorithm which will be used to calculate housing need locally, and what it may mean for our area.
I have spoken directly with Robert Jenrick MP, the Secretary of State at the Ministry for Housing, before following up with a letter where I reiterated these concerns on behalf of local residents. Many of the points I highlighted to the Secretary of State were echoed eloquently by my friend and colleague Andrew Griffith MP in his recent Parliamentary debate – to which I, along with most West Sussex MPs, were in attendance to show our support. Unfortunately, as a minister, I am not permitted to speak in these debates, but of course, I have made my thoughts known privately in correspondence to the Secretary of State and his Ministers.
I believe, as most of us do, that we need more houses in the country, as we have nearly 88,000 families including 128,000 children in temporary accommodation. Having said that, I have been clear that further work needs to be done to refine our policies, not least on the proposed algorithm to ensure it takes a more nuanced approach when generating housebuilding targets. In our area, in particular, it needs to take into account our unique landscape and that our developable land is sandwiched into a narrow strip between Chichester Harbour and the South Downs National Park.
I know that there has been a robust and widespread response to the consultation on the white paper that ended last month so the Government is fully aware of the strength of feeling amongst communities like ours. In their response, I am hoping that the algorithm will be reviewed and amended.
I have been working closely with Chichester District Council on this, and other planning issues. Just last week I met with the Council’s Director of Planning to discuss the ongoing work for planning locally, and this week spoke to the Leader of the Council, Eileen Lintill. In every instance, I am feeding back the views from Local Authorities, Parish Councils and individual constituents alike – I will continue voice our local perspectives to those responsible for our future planning policy.