South Downs responds to claim housing request ‘sprung’ on council

The South Downs National Park Authority is putting together its local plan up to 2033
The South Downs National Park Authority is putting together its local plan up to 2033

Claims a request to help the South Downs with its unmet housing need has been ‘sprung’ on Chichester District Council have ‘puzzled’ figures at the national park.

The national park authority is putting together its local plan up to 2033 and has asked CDC to help meet its housing shortfall.

Currently this would equate to 44 homes a year for the part of the national park within the Chichester district.

The request was discussed last week with one councillor suggesting it had been ‘sprung’ on CDC, while leader Tony Dignum said: “I think we have been bounced into this and it’s totally unsatisfactory.”

In response Margaret Paren, chair of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “I was puzzled to read that some Chichester district councillors consider that a housing request has been ‘sprung’ on them by the national park authority.

“This subject of unmet housing needs in the national park was taken to cabinet by their officers last November following a meeting to discuss a formal ‘duty to co-operate’ on 24 October – well before the close of the South Downs Local Plan consultation.

“We agree that the national park needs development and that there are settlements and sites suitable for housing within the national park, although not because we regard the settlements concerned as being in any way less beautiful than other parts of it.

“We are therefore making provisions for 81 new homes in the South Downs per year in the Chichester district alone. This is well over the 70 per year that Chichester District Council assumed we would provide when they adopted their own Local Plan: Key Policies in 2015.

“Our first purpose is to protect the South Downs’ nationally important landscapes and our draft local plan puts forward the strongest evidence that meeting the full Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) for housing would cause these irrevocable damage.

“National planning policies require us to leave ‘no stone unturned’ trying to meet housing needs, leaving us duty-bound to ask the council to consider whether they are able to provide any additional homes.”