Councillors meet with MPs to discuss planning

Conservative councillors on Wealden District Council met online with the four Members of Parliament that cover the Wealden area.

Bob Standley, Leader of the Council, stated, “We requested a meeting with Members of Parliament to discuss the housing numbers the Council is being asked to include in its Local Plan. MPs were also keen to hear the views of Wealden Councillors. The Council is keen to progress the Local Plan that will provide local need for housing and jobs.”

The discussion covered a wide range of housing related matters. It recognised that whilst housing is required, it is important to protect the environment and ensure the correct infrastructure is provided.

Cllr Ann Newton, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Development said, “The meeting raised a number of proposals that lessen the impact of the current housing numbers.

“MPs were asked to take up the following points:

• To be allowed to use the 2016 or 2018 household projections to input into the starting point when calculating our housing figure. These both show lower household projections for Wealden than the 2014 figure, which we are told we have to use. The more recent projections would better reflect actual need and result in fewer dwellings being required in Wealden.

• To remove/reduce the adjustment to consider affordability. In Wealden, this increases our housing figure by a capped amount of 40%. Removal of this factor would reduce the housing target by 350 dwellings per year.

• To allow us to add on all of the 7,500 approvals to calculate our 5 Year Land Supply figure. This would reduce pressure to grant further planning consents in the short term. It would also allow the Council time to develop its local plan, giving local people control over the pace and location of growth.

• To have a transitional period, temporarily reducing our housing requirement, whilst the Local Plan is completed, to limit the more speculative applications.

• Charge developers and landowners the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) payments one year after an approval. This would mean the developer has a real incentive to start building, and would assist the Council and our partners to delivering infrastructure alongside the growth.

“Following a constructive conversation, our MPs have agreed to discuss these issues with Ministers at MHCLG. We will continue to work with our MPs and MHCLG to seek a fairer approach to our housing targets as we produce our new Local Plan.”