South Downs National Park ‘won’t take its share of new housing’

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THE SOUTH Downs National park could come ‘knocking on the door’ of the Chichester district to take more housing.

The warning was sounded at the Chichester local plan hearing by Ian Ellis, director of Southern Planning Practice.

“The national park will do the least it possibly can to meet its objectively-assessed housing need, whatever that is going to turn out to be,” he said.

The national park authority is still in the process of creating a plan.

However, Mr Ellis said previous experiences with Winchester and East Hampshire District Council local plans gave a clear 
pointer to what Chichester should expect.

“It will expect a proportion of its objectively-assessed housing need is met by other authorities. That’s clear from the Winchester and East Hants experience. Although much of Chichester is in the national park, a great deal of it isn’t.”

He said the SDNPA would work ‘strongly to export into Chichester and other districts’.

“They can’t very much go north from the Chichester district as they hit the Waverley green belt. They can’t go south because they hit the English Channel. My experience is when they go forward with the local plan, they will be knocking on Chichester’s door, saying ‘can you accommodate X per cent because we don’t want to accommodate it here and we don’t have to’.”

In response, the SDNPA’s strategic planning lead Lucy Howard said the plan was yet to finalise its decisions: “The authority does need to consider the purpose and duty of a national park,” she said, highlighting its ‘landscape sensitivity’.

Winchester and East Hants plans both passed examination and were found sound in regard to all matters, including housing, she said, adding the SDNPA was in the ‘early stages’ of working on its strategic housing market assessment.

“We do realise that if necessary we will be approaching neighbouring local planning authorities, but we’re simply not at that stage yet,” she said.

Developers lining up to have their say at the local plan hearing are claiming building nearly 7,000 new homes in the district is not enough as they attempt to open the floodgates.

Chichester’s local plan earmarks 6,973 new homes until 2029 – around 410 a year.

But builders have been lambasting the local plan, claiming villages should not be allowed to dictate through their neighbourhood plans how many homes should be built across the district.