Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden, led a parliamentary debate today (Tuesday 1 March) to raise the issues surrounding housing delivery in Wealden and urge the Minister to review the current targets for Wealden.
Nusrat acknowledged the local need for more affordable housing but questioned the accuracy of the 2014 ONS population projection data on which the housing requirement modelling is based. The Wealden MP stressed the current numbers for Wealden are too high, ignore the constituency’s environmental constraints and are not accompanied by a meaningful delivery of infrastructure such as road and rail upgrades, and adequate provision of health and dental care, sewage and broadband.
Nusrat also urged the Minister to ensure that all the homes that have already been granted consent count towards the forward targets and count towards the 5-year land supply.
The Minister acknowledged the tireless efforts of Council Leaders Bob Standley and Ann Newton, confirmed that the Department will continue supporting Wealden Council into the future and stated that the concerns regarding making housing targets advisory, not mandatory were being “heard loud and clear” by the Department.
Nusrat Ghani said: “I am pleased to have secured this important debate to raise the matter of unachievably high housing targets for Wealden with the Minister. When and where new homes are built is always a controversial subject, but I fully recognise that we do need more homes, and a level of development is inevitable. However, I am concerned about the methods used for the housing need calculations and about Wealden having to shoulder the housing needs of neighbouring local authorities. I have had many meetings over the last 7 years with the Department of Housing and a huge amount of work is going on behind the scenes to address the current situation. I continue to support Wealden District Council in pressing the Government on the matter and I am pleased that the Minister has today committed to working with us.”
Leader of Wealden District Council Bob Standley said: “I welcome the commitment by the Minister to visit Wealden, which will give us a further opportunity to explain the challenges for Wealden to deliver the housing targets set by government with its Standard Methodology. The targets set are too high given 60% of Wealden is protected with AONB, South Downs National Park and the Pevensey levels. Even with lower more realistic housing numbers the Council will also need additional resources to fund the necessary the infrastructure.”