Michael Munier, lead of Don’t Urbanise the Downs said: “We applaud an initiative by 11 of our local parish councils who have joined forces to write to Secretary of State Michael Gove. We wrote to him along similar lines in early December and urged our 5,000 plus supporters to do the same.”
He pointed out all parishes face the dilemma of trying to find additional space for extra housing targets imposed by government, most likely on greenfield sites, which do not reflect agreed local plans which met housing need.
And he stressed: “Wouldn’t it be great if all councils facing the same problems wrote to Mr Gove. There’s strength in numbers!”
Many other local town and parish councillors, including those who banded together, have also written to the Secretary of State including from Braintree and Witham, Wokingham and Havant.
The letter from the parishes makes it clear Mr Gove should re-think - or better still scrap - the ‘Standard Method’ for calculating housing figures. It states: ‘This system is deeply flawed and has come in for a lot of criticism but it is still imposed on councils all over the country leading to incorrect and outdated population projections.’
And councillors point out the Standard Method fails to alleviate affordable housing needs but enables developers to maximise profits by concreting greenfield sites.
They go on to say this method is deeply flawed by its use of 2014 ONS population figures which overstate the target; issues also raised by five Wealden parish councils who also wrote to Michael Gove a week ago. They cited the age range of families in East Sussex, the lack of public infrastructure, high housing costs and low wages, which, put the county on the same level as Cumbria and create a ‘perverse and indiscriminate affordability factor.’ This acts in direct contradiction, they added, to a levelling up agenda by creating a housing target for areas like Lewes that predominantly allows developers to maximise profit and gives a supply for urban commuters to move into the countryside.
It is signed by parish clerks from Barcombe, Chailey, Ditchling, East Chiltington, Hamsey, Newick, Plumpton, Ringmer, Streat, Westmeston and Wivelsfield.