Lewes MP expecting reforms to protect greenfield sites from development

Lewes’ MP says she is expecting reforms to protect greenfield sites from development and changes to how housing targets are calculated.

Under the government’s current method of calculating housing need, Lewes District Council faces the prospect of a massive increase in housebuilding, with developers already submitting speculative applications.

Late last month Conservative MP Maria Caulfield welcomed measures in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill she said would include a brownfield first policy to protect green spaces, the strengthening of local plans, ending both the five-year land supply requirement and the current housing target methods.

She also highlighted the fact local authorities would be given greater powers to enforce planning and undertake compulsory purchase orders, both of which could help resolve the scaffolding ‘nightmare’ at Seaford’s Talland Parade.

Green Emily O'Brien and Lewes MP Maria Caulfield

Ms Caulfield suggested the bill would ‘transform planning making it easier to protect our precious green spaces’.

But Emily O’Brien, a district councillor and Green Party parliamentary spokesperson in Lewes, accused the MP of ‘making completely unfounded claims that these problems are being tackled by a bill that doesn’t even mention them’.

She described how the area’s countryside was seeing a ‘tidal wave of greenfield development proposals’ due to a ‘broken planning system’.

Ms O’Brien added: “I’m quite prepared to believe she had a chat with the temporary caretaker minister about what might or might not happen in future, but to take what sounds like idle talk from a government in chaos, and suggest it’s in a bill when it isn’t, is misleading the public and it’s wrong.”

She went on to suggest the main beneficiaries of the reforms in the bill ‘will actually be the huge housing estate developers’.

In response, Ms Caulfield said: “Having met with housing ministers before recess they are looking at further amendments to the bill when it returns to Parliament from ending the need for a five year land supply and including health as a statutory consultee so they can give their views on the impacts of large developments in our area.

"Plans to end the standard method for calculating housing numbers and strengthening local plans to protect greenfield sites are also been proposed and I look forward to supporting these when the bill comes before Parliament again in the autumn.”