Labour's house-building plans for Sussex: Environment campaigners call for 'more strategic approach'

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Chancellor Rachel Reeves' promise to get 'Britain building again' by imposing high targets and overhauling the planning system will prove highly controversial in Sussex.

While residents have consistently called for more affordable homes for local people and developers have said rules like water neutrality are making it increasingly difficult to build – poor roads, a lack of facilities like schools and doctors' surgeries, and a need to protect the county's spectacular environment and its wildlife will ignite a huge debate about the future of the county.

In a series of special reports, Sussex World senior reporter Sam Morton will examine the various arguments for and against 'concreting over the countryside.' In this feature, the Save Our South Coast Alliance (SOSCA) have their say about the challenges involved.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In her first speech as Chancellor, Rachel Reeves has committed Labour to facilitating the building of 1.5 million homes across Britain during their first term in office but 'won't give the green light to all housing developments.'

Libby Alexander, of the Save Our South Coast Alliance. Photo: Alex Shute / National WorldLibby Alexander, of the Save Our South Coast Alliance. Photo: Alex Shute / National World
Libby Alexander, of the Save Our South Coast Alliance. Photo: Alex Shute / National World

Further announcements will be made in the coming weeks to ‘accelerate the development’ of housing and infrastructure – including launching a ‘landmark consultation’ on an updated, growth-focused National Planning Policy Framework with mandatory housing targets and a requirement to review greenbelt boundaries where necessary to meet them.

SOSCA spokesperson Libby Alexander said: “We agree with the chancellor that housing is too expensive in the southeast of England.

"However, building more and more new homes on prime agricultural land and land that will be subject to flood risk in the coming decades is not the answer.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"To combat the issue of unaffordability the government needs to adopt a much more strategic approach to new home building.

Chancellor Rachel Reeves' promise to get 'Britain building again' by imposing high targets and overhauling the planning system will prove highly controversial in Sussex. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)Chancellor Rachel Reeves' promise to get 'Britain building again' by imposing high targets and overhauling the planning system will prove highly controversial in Sussex. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Chancellor Rachel Reeves' promise to get 'Britain building again' by imposing high targets and overhauling the planning system will prove highly controversial in Sussex. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

"Almost all the land in the Chichester district that is not in the protected SDNP or AONB of Chichester Harbour is either Grade I or II agricultural land and/or on the low lying coastal plain, so likely to increasingly suffer from flood risk. Imposing housing targets will just mean that within a few decades our farmland will be gone, and tens of thousands of new homes will be at risk of flooding in an area with no economy left.

"What we need from the new government, is the ability for the district council to raise funds to build long term affordable rental properties on land in or near our city centre for young people wishing to work in the area.

"There is a huge opportunity to redevelop a large part of Chichester city centre in a sustainable, well-designed manner with more green space, better use of public transport, creating mixed age communities and providing top class facilities for residents, visitors and our college and university.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Rather than imposing targets we would urge the government to help our local council seek to Masterplan Chichester to make it a top-class destination on the south coast. Pulling together excess land from National Rail, the Post Office, the councils, Stagecoach, police station and the Courts we could create hundreds of affordable housing units, a hotel, a music venue, courts fit for the 21st century and a new NHS practice, revitalising the Southern Gateway.

"Building on our prime farmland and future flood plains is not the answer. Creating vibrant, well-designed towns with more affordable homes, facilities, transport, employment, schools and hospitals within reach of residents is the way to boost our economy.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.