Are housing demands out of control?

The huge quantity of housing being proposed by the Chichester District Council, on which to base its new local plan, includes four large sites, Shopwyke Lakes 500, west of Chichester 1,000, Westhampnett 500, and Tangmere 1,000.

This seems to suggest housing demands are running out of control.

As many readers may recall, the unelected regional authorities were sponsored by the European Union, and then eagerly adopted by the manifesto of the newly-elected government in 1997. That manifesto promised each region its own plebiscite, to decide whether or not to accept the proposed regional quangos to control its planning policies. The first such plebiscite was held in the north-east region, where the proposal was rejected by a two-thirds majority. This rebuff so upset the then housing minister that the government, by a piece of political chicanery, imposed regional government on all the other regions by secondary legislation, thus dishonouring the promise in the manifesto. By these means SEERA, our local quango, was created.

When it was abolished, one would have expected (as must certainly have been the intention of the legislators), that its product, the south east plan, would have been abolished with it. That intention was confirmed by the provision in the Localism Act of November 2011 giving the government power to revoke it by order, which was done on March 23. As Mr Hill made clear in his letter (Observer, March 28), the local plan was drafted during the validity of the south east plan, and became out-of-date within three days.

As must be indicated by the growing volume of complaints which you are currently publishing, it is the developers’ demands that are out of control. Under the present law of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), it is the needs of the local people that are to be assessed with a new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA). The district council say they have assessed their housing requirements on an updated version of the West Sussex SHMA which covered the West Sussex sub-region of SEERA. That estimate was based on projections of previous years’ ‘in-migration’ figures across the whole sub-region. In the Chichester district deaths exceed births, so limited in-migration will be needed, but based on the district’s own needs, not those of the whole sub-region. The council has based its draft local plan on repealed law, and a fresh plan is urgently needed.

The so-called ‘bonfire of the quangos’ has left some menacing embers; it must surely be the duty of our democratically-elected members of government at all levels to recognise and extinguish them.

Michael Tynan

Highleigh

Sidlesham