East Hampshire District Council writes to levelling up minister Michael Gove to complain about housing targets as there is little room outside South Downs National Park

A COUNCIL has written an open letter to the new housing secretary Michael Gove urging him to change the rules so ‘large swathes’ of green fields are not built on.

Saturday, 2nd October 2021, 8:23 pm
Much of the East Hampshire district, such as the area around Idsworth, is in the South Downs National Park Picture: Jamie Fielding/Courtesy of South Downs National Park Authority

The government expects East Hampshire to build 600 homes a year despite 57 per cent of the district being inside the South Downs National Park.

Part of the letter sent by the district council reads: ‘It is extremely important that the flaws associated with the standard method for calc ulating local housing needs are remedied now.

‘As it stands, areas like E ast Hampshire cannot easily plan for its future development needs due to the unrealistic numbers associated with the presence of the National Park.

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Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove Picture: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

‘Further guidance is needed on how such strategic policy-making authorities can determine their housing needs.

‘I urge you to address this as a matter of urgency to stop the unwarranted development of large swathes of greenfield land in rural districts such as East Hampshire.’

The council continues to gather evidence to assess potential development sites set out in a document called the ‘spatial s trategy’ .

By the spring of 2022, the council is expected to produce a list of sites that will be included in the l ocal plan.

Council leader Cllr Richard Millard said: ‘We recognise the fundamental importance of evidence when allocating sites for housing.

‘We are part of the way through that process and there is still a lot of work to do. Each site will be reviewed objectively using the data we will gather.

‘We can’t make promises about which sites will be included in the l ocal plan, but we can involve people through consultation and provide the evidence that will help people understand the decisions we take.

‘If the evidence doesn’t support it, it won’t get in the plan.’

Cllr Angela Glass, p ortfolio holder for planning, said: ‘We don’t want to fall victim to speculative applications for developments that don’t have t he supporting infra structure.

‘Our spa tial s trategy is not about finalising t he local p lan. More work is needed on the policies, sites and evidence to underpin the plan’s content, but it is a way of being open and showing the public reasonable alternatives at this moment in time.’

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