Michael Gove meets with Wealden councillors over housing development fears

Housing minister Michael Gove met with Wealden District Council leaders to discuss the number of houses the authority is forced to include in its Local Plan.

Mr Gove, the Cabinet Secretary of State for Housing, Levelling Up & Communities, held an online meeting with Wealden council leader Bob Standley and deputy leader Ann Newton on Friday, December 10.

The meeting, facilitated by Wealden MP Nus Ghani, is part of a concentrated lobbying campaign to the government about the high number of homes Wealden is obliged to provide under current guidelines.

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Both councillors were able to reiterate points already made to ministers previously, but welcomed the chance to discuss them directly with Mr Gove.

Wealden councillors Bob Standley and Ann Newton met with Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove last Friday (December 10) to discuss concerns about the amount of houses the authority is forced to built in its Local Plan. SUS-211215-144622001

Councillor Bob Standley said he felt the minister understood the concerns raised and both he and Cllr Newton were encouraged by the responses to their issues.

These included the way the five-year land supply (5YLS) was calculated.

In the Wealden District Council area there are more than 7,500 permissions for new homes given, but not built out – with the effect that unbuilt permissions mean there is a lack of a 5YLS, which has encouraged further speculative planning applications.

The current use of 2014 population data rather than more up to date 2018 figures was also questioned.

Mr Gove thanked the councillors for raising the topics and officials said he was clearly sympathetic to issues and solutions proposed.

Government is reviewing the position and further details are expected early in the New Year.

Both Cllr Standley and Cllr Newton said it was important to get a new Local Plan in place and said they will continue to raise the issues with other ministers.

Ms Ghani said, “I was pleased to secure this meeting with the Housing Secretary and his officials for the Council leaders to express their concerns regarding housing targets and needs in Wealden and the county.

“I continue working with the District Council and supporting them in putting together a Local Plan.”