Campaign for the Protection of Rural England [CPRE]

Gatwick: Number of new homes spiralling

Friday, 23 August 2019 14:07

Letter published by the West Sussex County Times 8 August 2019


Gatwick “Airport plans will mean 20,000 jobs” (WSCT July 25) – and a substantial increase in the number of houses that will be needed to accommodate the hugely expanded workforce.

Horsham District Council (HDC) is currently preparing its new local development plan, for the period 2021 to 2036.

To determine the house-building target for the plan, the council has first to assess the district’s ‘minimum annual local housing need’ by means of the Government’s hocus pocus formula-based ‘standard method’. The resultant number is 974 houses pa, which over 15 years (2021 to 2036) will amount to 14,610 houses.

However, Government diktat stipulates that “there will be circumstances where it is appropriate (for councils) to consider whether actual housing need is higher than the standard method indicates”.

Gatwick’s proposed expansion, if permitted and the consequent prospect of 20,000 new jobs would require HDC to consider whether the district’s actual housing need is higher than the 974 house pa indicated by the standard method.

Should the additional need be, say, 250 houses pa in consequence of Gatwick, this would amount to an extra 3750 houses over the 15 years to 2036, therefore 18,360 (3,750 + 14,610) houses in total.

In addition, HDC is required by the Government-imposed ‘Duty to Cooperate’ to assist councils that do not have capacity to accommodate all of their ‘assessed’ housing need by accepting a proportion of their ‘unmet need’.

HDC might therefore be required to meet not only, as now, the unmet need of Crawley, but also the ‘unmet’ needs of other councils, too, perhaps Adur, Brighton and Hove and Chichester.

A requirement to accept from these councils, say 300 pa, would result in 4,500 houses being added to the district’s overall target, therefore 22,860 in total, therefore 1,524 pa.

Doubtless, developers will seek to persuade the examining Planning Inspector that the target should be much much higher by playing the Gatwick card.

Yours faithfully,

Dr R F Smith
Trustee CPRE Sussex