Council leader hits out at government for 'unfair' house building targets

Released: Tuesday, 25 January 2022

The leader of Worthing Borough Council today hit out at government house building targets for the area calling them 'unrealistic and a threat to our green spaces'.

Cllr Kevin Jenkins was responding to new figures which show the Council has only given permission for 784 new homes in the last three years although the government insists this should be 2,268 to meet the Borough's housing needs.

The Government sets down what is called an Objective Assessment of Housing Needs that Councils have to adopt. Those authorities not reaching 95 per cent of this target - Worthing's figure is 35 per cent - are then being penalised by having their powers to reject developments weakened.

Today, Cllr Jenkins said the figure for Worthing was impossible to meet if the Council wanted to keep the right balance between building new homes and preserving quality of life in the borough and its important open spaces.

“We have always said these housing targets are unfair on places like Worthing and others on the South Coast,” he said, “We are hemmed in by the sea and the South Downs and there simply isn't the space to build this amount of new homes.

“I'm angry that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities refuses to see sense on this issue. It imposes completely unrealistic targets on us and then, when we can't reach them, ties one hand behind our back when we seek to control development by weakening our planning powers.”

Cllr Jenkins said he completely recognized the need to build new affordable homes so that people could stay, live and work in the borough, but the numbers needed to be reasonable.

“People know we are bringing forward many schemes to build on brownfield sites within the town, places like Teville Gate, Union Place and others so that we can revive our centres and bring people back into town,” he said, “But to reach this target we would have to build large developments on the few open spaces we have left and we are not prepared to do that.”

At an ongoing planning appeal the Council is currently fighting plans by developer Persimmon to build 475 new homes at Chatsmore Farm in what is known as the 'Goring Gap'.

The appeal comes against a backdrop of the publication of the Worthing Local Plan, the Council's planning blueprint for development over the next 15 years, which designates Chatsmore Farm as, what is described as 'Green Gap' in planning terms. This was accepted by the government-appointed Local Plan Inspector who indicated that the site should remain undeveloped.

The Council strongly believes that overall the Plan strikes the right balance between building new homes and preserving quality of life in the Borough and its important open spaces.

The latest government figures on house building show that Worthing is one of 50 local councils, many in the South, who have not met their targets.

Those Councils have their planning powers restricted so that their ability to refuse is much harder if the house builder insists its plans are a 'sustainable developer'. The Council wants to have its Local Plan agreed as quickly as possible to ensure the right development is delivered in the right places.

Photo: Chatsmore Farm

PR22-010+016+068+139+203 - Chatsmore Farm

(PR22-016)

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Page last updated: 25 November 2022

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