Wealden District Council
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Wealden welcomes proposed changes to planning system and housing targets

Publish Date: 9 December 2022

Proposed government reforms to housing targets and the planning system have been welcomed by Wealden District Council.

model house on top of a planning application

The council has been continuously lobbying government for the last few years to reduce its nationally set housing targets.

On Tuesday 6 December the Secretary of State for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities confirmed in Parliament that he was listening to the council’s call and is now looking to adjust housing targets and remove the five year housing land supply requirements.

The plans would also see the council given greater powers to deter unjustified, speculative applications during the production of its Local Plan.

The government consultation on the proposed changes is due to be published before the end of the year. Wealden council is keen to see the finer detail of the proposals and engage fully with the consultation.

Under the proposals, housing targets set for local authorities will remain but will be a starting point instead with new flexibilities to reflect local circumstances such as national parks, heritage restrictions, and areas of high flood risk; local planning authorities will be able to tackle slow build out by developers; and there could be new financial penalties for companies failing to deliver housing despite having planning approval and give councils power to refuse further permissions across their areas.

Work has considerably progressed on Wealden District Council’s Draft Local Plan, which will shape the district’s places, plan and manage growth and infrastructure, and guide development in the district in future years.

The council needs to ensure that its emerging Local Plan fully considers these important forthcoming changes to ensure the Local Plan is robust and respects the district’s landscape and rural nature.

Following the publication of the government consultation, the council is planning to bring an updated timetable for its Local Plan to the Local Plan Sub Committee in the new year.

Wealden District Council leader and portfolio holder for Planning, Councillor Ann Newton said, “The Local Plan is an important document and we want to progress it as quickly as possible to provide certainty to our communities, partners and developers on the future planning strategy for the district.

“However, following our successful lobbying efforts we will be working over the coming months to build these changes into our Draft Local Plan, with the central aim of protecting the natural beauty and character of our district and meeting our climate change commitments”.