New leader welcomes campaigning from MPs over housing numbers

New leader welcomes campaigning from MPs over housing numbers


​​​​​​Pressure on the government by MPs to get the number of homes Wealden District Council is obliged to deliver in the future has been welcomed by the authority’s new leader.

Councillor Ann Newton, who took over as leader of the authority this month and is also the portfolio holder for Planning, said she welcomed the input from Wealden MP Nus Ghani and Huw Merriman, the MP for Bexhill and Battle, whose constituency includes part of the Wealden district.

Ms Ghani has facilitated meetings between Councillor Newton and senior government ministers to highlight concerns that the number of new homes – 1,221 – the council has to provide is unreasonable, and Mr Merriman urged the government to deliver planning reforms, which focus building on land where permission has already been granted before fresh applications are entertained by local planning authorities.

Speaking in the House of Commons this month, Mr Merriman asked for a meeting with Housing Minister Stuart Andrew so the minister “could deal with the following situation whereby Wealden and Rother councils have issued 10,000 planning permissions, which have not been built out, yet they still have to deliver 2,000 new homes between them each year”.

Mr Merriman said, “Wealden and Rother councils are left in the frustrating position of having to entertain fresh planning applications when there are plenty already in the bank for developers to build on.

“Surely, at the very least, we can have annual housing targets which take into account those houses not yet built out so that developers build rather than land bank.”

Councillor Newton said, “I very much welcome Huw Merriman’s intervention over planning numbers affecting the district.

“His timely input adds to the district council’s work with the Secretary of State and ministers to highlight the issue which has also been addressed in Parliament and Whitehall by MP Nus Ghani.

“I very much hope we do see some sensible planning reforms along the lines that Huw has suggested. They would come as an enormous relief to residents up and down the land.