Need to prevent urbanisation

Last week a ‘respected right of centre think tank, Civitas’ according to the Daily Telegraph, has found that in the last ten years over two million planning permissions for houses have been granted by local authorities yet only 1.26 million houses have been started.

The report concludes that this is because housebuilders and others are hoarding permissions in order to push up land and house prices and profits.

This is just what campaigners like the Campaign to Protect Rural England have been saying for ages, whereas government’s answer has been to load the planning system with greater opportunities for developers to be granted more and more planning permissions and to store them up, rather than build the houses people need.

The new planning regime introduced in 2012 requires local authorities to grant permissions more or less on demand if there is not what is called a ‘five year housing supply’ – of permissions, not of built homes.

That is why in Rother there has been a rash of major housing applications in places such as Battle, Sedlescombe, Northiam, Hurst Green and Robertsbridge all claiming they should be granted because a recent planning appeal decided Rother did not have a five year housing supply. But Rother has absolutely no control over whether any of those permissions are actually implemented.

So the calls are reinforced that permissions should include clauses that they cease to be legal if not fully built out over a certain period. However with a Conservative government intensively lobbied by the housebuilders, is this likely ?

Civitas, via one of their directors say: “The challenge for Theresa May’s government is to break the stranglehold that the major housebuilders are exerting on the supply of new homes.”

Let us hope that those in government recognise swiftly the folly of the current planning regime and bring change forward to prevent the urbanisation of our countryside.

Stephen Hardy

Trustee CPRE Sussex

George Close


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