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Local MPs and council leaders meet in London to discuss housing numbers

Jeremy Quin, MP for Horsham, working with Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) and Sir Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex), arranged an urgent meeting with Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to discuss views on Housing Numbers and the actions of developers. The meeting was held in the House of Commons on Tuesday, 21 November.
The Government Consultation “The Right Homes in the Right Places” set out proposals to reform planning, including standard methods for calculating local authorities’ housing need. It closed on Thursday 9 November and the Government is considering its response.
Ray Dawe, Leader of Horsham District Council, and Garry Wall, Leader of Mid Sussex District Council, joined the meeting to put across direct the key points from the Councils’ written responses to the consultation.
Concerns were expressed that the proposed standard formula may not reflect the reality of the local housing market. In Horsham’s case, there were specific concerns that the baseline for housing numbers had been inappropriately inflated, which would lead to more housing being required of Horsham than should be the case. Mid Sussex have concerns that the conclusion of their work, to deliver a local plan and five-year land supply, may be overtaken by the new rules, giving too much power to the developers.
Sajid Javid responded and made clear that any new housing targets will provide a base from which to work, not a final number – Councils will still be able to demonstrate particular factors that prevent delivery in their areas.
The Minister went on to outline plans, since reinforced by the Budget, to help strengthen Councils’ hands in their dealings with developers.
The Government will help Councils require the delivery of new homes, where permission has been granted, but developers are not progressing those plans. Government will also invest an extra £15bn in housing and is bringing forward plans to support small building firms and skills training.
There was full agreement that new development must be matched by expanded infrastructure.
Jeremy Quin commented: “In common with every MP, I meet constituents who are desperate to get a home locally of their own – to rent or buy. We need to ensure houses get built in the right places and are affordable. However, we must recognise the local constraints on delivering new homes as well as the need for supporting infrastructure.”
Sir Nicholas, taking up the point on infrastructure, said: “If we are to cope with the large number of houses that we are obliged to build the Government must make it possible through judicious and careful use of further infrastructure money to enable this to happen. This is, after all, what sustainable development is all about.”
Leader of HDC Ray Dawe commented “Our local MPs and Council Leaders realise the need to deliver new homes for our residents. Horsham District Council has worked hard to achieve that but we also need to balance this with the new infrastructure and protection of the our local environment. We made this absolutely clear to the Minister”.
The Leader of Mid Sussex, Garry Wall said: “I was grateful for the opportunity to talk directly to the Secretary of State about the importance of Government supporting councils and of developers delivering housing once permission has been granted. I think the case for more housing has been made, but we do need support from the Government to ensure community infrastructure comes too”.
Nick Herbert MP said “We all recognise the need for new homes, and our district councils have hugely increased housing numbers in recent years, but we need to ensure that the levels are sustainable and that we have the infrastructure to match. It’s also time that developers were prevented from gaming the system so that they actually build when they have planning permission.  welcome the Budget measures that address these issues.”

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