Developers East Sussex minutes: 14 May 2024

Meeting details

Date: 14 May 2024

Time: 2pm

Location: Microsoft Teams

See the list of attendees and apologies for this meeting.

1. Welcome and introductions

1.1  JB welcomed attendees to the meeting and noted the apologies.

2. Review of previous minutes, 12 March 2024

2.1  JB advised that the previous actions were completed or are in motion. Regarding action 5.4 on setting up a Hastings Town Centre Regeneration discussion forum, colleagues at Hastings BC are progressing this and DES will be kept apprised.

2.2  The minutes were approved as an accurate record of the meeting.

3. Market conditions / open forum

3.1  The group discussed the current state of the market and the ongoing issues around the supply of materials, labour shortages, price increases etc.

3.2  The sales market, which had seen an unexpected lift in December/January, continued to perform well through the early part of this year, but has since subdued to a degree. Sales rates, which are currently around 0.55 to 0.60 sales per outlet per week on average, are still below what we’d like to see (full recovery would be around 0.75) but are improving. Private sales values are holding up, but we’ve still not seen much recovery on the revenue drops experienced over the last 12-18 months. Build costs are still under some pressure from inflationary issues, and now particularly the regulatory changes as we progress towards the 2025 Future Homes Standard.

3.3  Commercial activity and investment remain fairly consistent, but demand is still at ‘post-covid’ levels.

3.4  S106 affordable housing problems persist, with issues around low interest and low value. BH noted that the most recent Affordable Housing Roundtable virtual meeting on 18 April 2024 was attended by more than 70 colleagues, with the group in complete consensus on the messages being fed back to Government. After the event BH shared a summary note via LinkedIn highlighting the “market failure” and some of the proposed solutions that were discussed. A similar briefing was also provided to County Council colleagues for a recent meeting they held with Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) officials. The Roundtable cohort is next coming together on 6 June 2024.

4. Low Carbon Commitments

4.1  JA outlined some of the challenges in addressing climate change in housing development, noting that while 80% of the homes that will exist by 2050 have already been built (presenting retrofit challenges), the other 20% are homes that are coming forward now. So the challenge is to ensure developers are willing/able to build to the highest standards of energy performance.

4.2  JA led a detailed discussion on Low Carbon Commitments, covering the barriers that developers identify as preventing the development of new-builds at higher rates of energy efficiency, and what would incentivise them to do more. The group raised the following points:

  • Regulations need to make it a level playing field to everyone supplying homes. If it’s only ‘discretionary’ it won’t happen.
  • Registered Providers (RPs) are asking for higher energy performance and will often turn down S106 on that basis (as well as others). It’s hard to see that changing significantly unless the public demands it.
  • A difficulty occurs when things change after a scheme is already underway and full planning is in place, thereby requiring a retrofit (S73 amendment). It’s a very hard and time consuming process that could be streamlined.
  • High performance super-insulated homes may lead to other factors, such as providing additional ventilation or exposing different noise levels / acoustic profiles to those expected (e.g. from air source heat pumps).
  • Cost is also a major factor. We need economies of scale to start driving down the costs of such equipment.
  • Power networks will charge the developer for all network upgrades required, but won’t engage until planning is in place, making it vastly cost prohibitive. We need to lobby to have those penalties removed, or to instigate early conversations during pre-planning when purchasing sites.
  • Homebuyers, particularly first time buyers and shared ownership, are considering energy efficiency as a factor (especially as the private rentals market is made up mostly of inefficient older stock). Energy efficiency is one of the major questions people ask in show homes.
  • Some developers see energy performance as a sales incentive and use it in their marketing.
  • Historically there has been no real ‘price premium’ in providing good energy performance. If we want developers to bring homes fit for the future, but without a price premium, there need to be other incentives.
  • Other incentives could include reduced contributions, tax incentives in relation to products, or a differential stamp duty rate.

5. Housing stats: annual report

5.1  KB delivered a presentation on housing statistics in East Sussex, including housing completions, tenures, property prices and sales. East Sussex saw 2,416 completions in 2022/23, which is one of the highest figures in 20 years, but only 30% were affordable. Most completions (47%) were located in Wealden. Tenures are mostly owned outright, with a rate higher than the England average, while the percentage of social rented households is lower than the England average.

5.2  KB provided an update on the new East Sussex in Figures (ESiF) website currently in development. The existing site is being replaced in order to meet accessibility requirements and replace outdated software. The County Council’s Research and Intelligence Team is working jointly with Public Health colleagues to present key data and analysis about East Sussex in one place, providing a single ‘front door’ for both ESiF and the East Sussex Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA). The site will feature a number of topic profiles, including housing. The website address,, will remain the same and the new site will go live during June/July 2024.

5.3  KB also highlighted another online interactive tool from DLUHC on net additional dwellings, which she encouraged colleagues to explore: Microsoft Power BI.

6. East Sussex Housing Strategy

6.1  MC provided a progress update on the development of the new Housing Strategy for East Sussex, noting that the latest working draft of the evidence base is now available – to be shared immediately following the meeting and explored in more detail at the next DES meeting. The evidence base will help develop and guide priorities.

6.2  MC also noted that some of the topics already discussed today, including key messages from the affordable housing roundtables and points on decarbonisation and retrofit, are included in the data and will form part of the strategy.

6.3  The next stage of strategy development will involve virtual workshops on Carbon Reduction and Net Zero on 21 May, and on Development and Supply on 13 June 2024, which all DES colleagues are invited to attend. Feedback on the workshops will be provided at the next DES meeting.

7. Local Planning Authority (LPA) updates

7.1  Officers provided updates on the progression of their Borough/District Councils’ Local Plans. Rother DC currently has its Draft (Regulation 18) Local Plan out to consultation. The Reg 18 consultation runs from 30 April to 23 July 2024. Lewes DC and Wealden DC completed their Reg 18 consultations in February and May 2024 respectively, and are now processing the responses. All of the above expect to progress from ‘Draft’ to ‘Proposed Submission’ (Regulation 19) next year. Eastbourne BC is about to relaunch work on its Local Plan, aiming to reach a Reg 19 Plan by the end of the year. Hastings BC cannot launch any new consultations until after this month’s local elections, so is expecting to conduct its Reg 19 Local Plan consultation during Q2 of 2024/25.

7.2  ND advised that Lewes DC has been placed under a designation notice by DLUHC in regard to major applications, such that developers will now be able to submit major applications directly to the Planning Inspectorate, effectively bypassing the opportunity for local appeal. See news articles on the Lewes DC and BBC News websites.

7.3  CH thanked the DES group for their help and support in the Hastings Strategic Regeneration and Investment Framework (SRIF), which is in the early stages of development, and advised that Hastings BC colleagues will work with BH to move it forward with DES’s continued involvement.

8. DLUHC / Homes England engagement

8.1  JB reminded the group that a monthly call is held with officials from DLUHC, which is extremely useful for the sharing of information and raising the issues being discussed at DES. As always, DES colleagues are encouraged to get in contact with any particular points to raise.

9. AOB (any other business)

9.1  JB advised that this year’s Dinner with the Leader is being arranged for September 2024, and plans are also underway to hold a face-to-face DES meeting, again most likely in September. More details to follow on both.

Summary of actions


Attendees and apologies


  • BB, Beverley Bayliss, East Sussex CC
  • BH, Brian Horton, SELEP
  • CBl, Colin Black, Mayer Brown
  • CD, Christine Dadswell, Batcheller Monkhouse
  • CH, Chris Hancock, Hastings BC
  • DE, Dave Evans, East Sussex CC
  • DM, David Maher, Dandara
  • EG, Emma George, Rentplus
  • EP, Erica Peck, Rydon Homes
  • ERS, Elizabeth Ross-Smith, Greymoor
  • GJ, Georgia Jeffs, Counties and Capital Consulting
  • GQ, Graeme Quinnell, Rother DC
  • HE, Huw Edwards, Stantec
  • JA, Jim Aspdin, Southdown
  • JB, Jonathan Buckwell, DHA Planning
  • JC, Janan Clatworthy, Chartway
  • JM, Joan Mumo, L and G Affordable Homes
  • KB, Kim Bloxham, East Sussex CC
  • KE, Kemi Erifevieme, Rother DC
  • MB, Mark Bewsey, DHA Planning
  • MC, Michael Courts, East Sussex CC
  • MS, Maddi Simpson, Hallam Land Management
  • ND, Nadeem Din, Eastbourne BC / Lewes DC
  • NF, Nick Fenton, Nick Fenton Associates
  • NT, Neill Tickle, Counties and Capital Consulting
  • RA, Rebecca Armstrong, Southern Housing
  • SCo, Simon Collins, Jones Homes
  • SCr, Sarah Cross, Stantec


  • CBr, Chris Broome, Sea Change Sussex
  • CBu, Claire Burnett, Homes England
  • CM, Chris Moore, Bellway Homes
  • DG, Derek Godfrey, Westcotte Leach
  • GH, Gary Hall, Eastbourne BC / Lewes DC
  • JP, Jeff Pyrah, Rother DC
  • JS, Janet Shields, Vulcan Ellis
  • PC, Peter Coldbreath, Stiles Harold Williams Partnership
  • RT, Ryan Trodden, DLUHC
  • SR, Stacey Robins, Wealden DC