Mid Sussex’s housing target has been increased from 800 to 1,026 units a year by a planning inspector.

Mid Sussex District Council’s local plan, which sets out where and how many homes are set to be built up to 2031, has been scrutinised over the past few months by inspector Jonathan Bore during a series of examination hearings held in public.

In his initial findings report, Mr Bore said that ‘conditions justify a significant uplift in Mid Sussex in response to market signals’, while the district should also help contribute to Crawley’s housing shortfall, given the town’s geographical constraints.

He argued that ‘large areas of the district are not covered by national designations’ and none of the council’s evidence demonstrates that ‘significant and demonstrable harm would arise from housing provision above 800 dpa [dwellings per annum]’.

His report said:

“I consider that both the full OAN [objectively assessed need] of 876 dpa and 150 dpa of Crawley’s unmet need can and should be accommodated in the district plan, and that this can be achieved sustainably without conflicting with policies in the framework. The evidence also demonstrates that the market can sustain such figures. That leads to a minimum housing requirement for the plan period of 1,026 dpa, or 17,442 dwellings over the 17 year life of the plan.”

Garry Wall, leader of the district council, said:

“We are disappointed the inspector has not, it appears, listened to the arguments we have put forward on behalf of residents and businesses. He has stuck with the views he expressed very early on in the process and seems determined to force a very high housing figure on the council. This will have a significant and detrimental impact across the whole district. We are also very concerned about the negative impact on neighbourhood planning. We will need to carefully consider the implications of his interim conclusions, taking advice from our planning consultants and barrister, and respond robustly when the plan hearings re-convene in just over a week.”