New planning rules show ‘no concern’ for working families in the South Downs National Park

NEW planning rules lowering requirements for affordable housing provision show a flagrant disregard for working families in the South Downs National Park it has been claimed.

Midhurst’s Chichester district councillor Gordon McAra said they showed ‘no concern for working families’ and representative for Petworth Janet Duncton added it was an ‘absolutely appalling’ decision.

The rules now mean section 106 agreements on low cost housing are being removed from sites of fewer than ten homes. For designated rural areas under section 157 of the housing act 1985 - which includes national parks - authorities may choose to implement a lower threshold of five units or less, beneath which affordable housing and tariff style contributions should not be sought.

Jim Bailey, chairman of National Parks England, warned: “These changes go to the heart of how we can respond to the need for affordable housing in our rural communities.”

Cllr McAra said: “The change in planning rules to reduce the number of affordable houses in rural areas is frankly nuts.

“Its the sort of stuff that policy makers who live a sheltered life think up.

“There is no concern about working families, often poorly paid, who want to continue to live where they come from and who rely on affordable housing to help them achieve this.

“Eric Pickles and his acolytes should be ashamed. The only people to benefit from this move are property developers and builders, I guess that shows his priorities.”

He said there was a potential for 59 affordable homes in Midhurst in the next few years and 76 households on the housing register.

Cllr Duncton said she was asking MP Nick Herbert to take up the concerns.

“There are a lot of minimum wage earners in the area and there will always be people who need help.”

She said most development in rural areas tended to be small.

“I have got a situation in Fittleworth at the moment where we are hoping to get one affordable home.

“With this new planning law where do they expect people on low wages to live.

“In the future it may be that anyone who cannot afford to buy a house on the open market in the South Downs National Park will not be able to live in the area.”