On a recent front page The Times headlines an article on Government housing targets “Rural areas face threat of 400,000 new homes – New planning targets will force councils to build on greenbelt sites.” The article goes on to say that nearly 400,000 homes will be built on greenfield sites in the south of England over the next five years, according to a new analysis of Government planning policy. Huge parts of the countryside could be paved over by councils to meet revised house building targets, the data suggests. The Rural Services Network also report on these major housing targets,
It appears that the the Government’s formula assumes that more homes are needed where prices are higher. The analysis commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) shows that greenfield sites will be needed to accommodate 107,000 homes in the South East. Sadly, the government’s proposals do not distribute housing numbers across the country evenly. Their formula forces local councils in the South East to dramatically revise their local plans in what is already the most densely populated part of the country outside the big cities.
Both the increased housing targets set by the Government and the planning changes announced last year by the Government have already created a flood of planning proposals by developers across the South East. The South Downs Network are concerned that large new housing developments are encroaching on the landscape on the very edge of the South Downs National Park. Perhaps an audit should be made of the effect of new developments on the landscape around the National Park.
Even before the new Planning Bill has been put before parliament there is an upsurge in developer housing proposals in rural areas. In addition to the thousands of homes already planned around Burgess Hill, Chichester, Horsham, Hailsham, and Uckfield and in addition to existing plans by local councils for new housing, developers have published plans (mostly in outline) for new housing development in many locations in the South East: Here are a few examples of proposed new developments near the National Park boundary.
- Henfield – 7,000
- West Grinstead – 3,500 (near the Knepp Estate)
- Plumpton/East Chiltington – 3,000
- Upper Dicker – 2,500
- Winchester – 5000
In many cases the proposed developments have no public transport matching infrastructure funding, which means more car journeys on our roads. Local councils in the South East have little or no time to consider the effect on local schools, health services infrastructure, flooding risk, ecology, landscape and biodiversity. It appears no thought has been given to existing wildlife corridors.
It’s probable that the South Downs National Park will suffer even more from increased traffic on country lanes with the proposed large housing developments in the countryside. It’s likely that traffic from these large housing developments will feed into the network of lanes and narrow roads around and in the National Park. None of these developments seem to consider the effect on the nearby country lanes and roads.
In addition to the large housing developments in the countryside, other developments will impact on our countryside, such as:
CPRE Hampshire have written to all Hampshire MPs about the Government’s proposed reforms. CPRE are concerned about the Government proposes that will allocated land into three zones:
- Fully protected will be national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty;
- ‘Renewal areas’ which will see new development
- ‘Growth areas’ where there will be a presumption in favour of development.
It’s difficult to demonstrate the effect these new housing developments will have on the environment for the existing communities. Already we have seen plans approved for development at places like:
- New Monks Farm, Adur – 600 homes
- Toad’s Hole Valley , Brighton – 900 homes
- Northern Arc at Burgess Hill – 3000 homes
- Whitehill & Bordon – 1200 homes
These are just examples of existing developments underway or soon to be implemented. Sadly, there seems to be no thought given to building happy, healthy communities living in harmony with nature and the environment. As in previous decades. Government seems bent on encouraging the increase of population in the South East without considering the consequences.