With a requirement for up to 19,400 homes over the next 20 years but only space identified for 11,400, Brighton & Hove is actively looking further afield in its functional economic area [FEA] to satisfy housing demand. But there is another agenda.
Previously housing targets were dictated by regional spatial strategies, such as the South East Plan [see earlier story] but the coalition government is in the process of revoking regional plans. The simplified version of national planning rules – the National Planning Policy Framework [see earlier story] – has imposed a “duty to cooperate” obliging neighbouring planning authorities to "engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis" to work together to solve their infrastructure requirements, especially housing.
Brighton & Hove’s housing market area incorporates Adur District and parts of Worthing Borough to the west; eastwards it incorporates parts of Lewes and Wealden Districts and Eastbourne Borough and northwards Mid Sussex and Horsham Districts and Crawley Borough.
The problem is that all of these areas also face similar challenges in meeting housing requirements so they are unlikely to have any slack to allocate to our housing needs.
However, government guidance on “constructive engagement” is very clear and the national Planning Inspectorate has made it abundantly clear that they take this duty very seriously indeed [see earlier story]. Consequently to ensure that the City Plan [Core Strategy] is found to be sound at examination in public in 2013 the council will formally request adjoining councils to consider the extent to which they are able to meet the city's unmet housing need. Perhaps tellingly the background paper presented to the Economic Development & Culture Committee on 20th September made the rather stark observation that there is is a duty to cooperate, but not to agree.
ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP COMMENT
This is a bit of a tick-box exercise to satisfy the demands of the NPPF and ease the passage of the City Plan but it seems unlikely to find homes for our residents. But that’s not a criticism; the City Council is in a cleft stick.
We don’t have the land to provide the housing that we need and all we can do is ask our neighbours to help. Either because of their own physical constraints or a lack of political will to build houses and risk losing votes, most are unlikely to offer any help.
One ray of hope is Newhaven which, being in the rather more savvy Lewes District and already has close links with Brighton & Hove [they are members of our Economic Partnership and our Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)], may be a realistic option for accommodating overspill from Brighton.
We should be working more closely with Lewes District to improve public transport links and assist with the development plans for the port area.
Read related items on:
National Planning Policy Framework
Lewes District Council