Developers East Sussex minutes: 18 October 2022
Date: 18 October 2022
Location: Microsoft Teams
See the list of attendees and apologies for this meeting.
1. Welcome and introductions
- JBu welcomed the group to the meeting.
2. Review of previous minutes, 6 September 2022
- The minutes were approved as an accurate record of the meeting.
3. Market conditions / open forum
- The group discussed the current state of the market and the ongoing issues around the supply of materials, labour shortages, price increases etc. High build costs are unrelenting, but the main issue at the moment is the lack of confidence in the market. Despite cost increases, values and demand have remained relatively strong, so margins have been maintained – but that will change if prices stagnate. We need political stability in order to restore some confidence.
- Small businesses across all sectors are terrified of energy bills, utilities costs, service charges etc, and many are likely to fold within the next six months as it becomes unviable to stay open.
- From the Registered Providers’ perspective, rents are a big concern. They are likely to settle at 5%, but that is still to be confirmed. Housing Associations do want to develop, but under the current conditions, most have a much lower risk appetite for development.
4. Growth Plan 2022: Investment Zones
- BH provided an explanation of Investment Zones, which were announced as part of the Chancellor’s fiscal statement on 23 September 2022, with further details subsequently published by HM Treasury in the Growth Plan 2022. Expressions of Interest were encouraged from all upper tier authorities, but the required information within the EOI would need to be provided by Local Planning Authorities. In East Sussex, only one proposal came forward from Rother DC for a potential Investment Zone in the North Bexhill area, which County Council officers submitted as an EOI by the 14 October deadline. The bid was accompanied by a very supportive letter from Huw Merriman MP. It’s understood that EOIs were also submitted by Essex and Kent County Councils.
- Note that there is no funding associated with Investment Zones, just greater freedoms and flexibilities. DES will be kept informed as the East Sussex EOI progresses and more information is forthcoming.
5. First Homes
- BH advised that a roundtable event took place on 22 September 2022, with attendance from DLUHC and Homes England, to discuss the First Homes programme. It was a very open and frank discussion, and summary information from the event has already been shared with the group.
- While the pilot was considered a success, it was backed by funding, which won’t be the case moving forward. Concerns were therefore raised on future resourcing, and a shared/common system was suggested to help streamline the process. Concerns were also raised by Registered Providers on the ability/appetite to deliver First Homes, viewing it as a direct conflict to shared ownership, which is still a more feasible option. The price cap on units (£250k outside of London) was also flagged at the meeting, with a suggestion that it be more market sensitive.
- Locally there has continued to be little interest in First Homes to date, but that is beginning to change, with queries starting to be received. There will be a full review of the pilot which will hopefully inform further policy, and another roundtable meeting will be convened in around six months’ time.
6. Stewardship and Estate Charges
- PT provided information on Stewardship and Estate Charging, for which the Essex and Kent Developers Groups have been sharing best practice and discussing what kinds of model might work best.
- A subgroup of the SELEP Housing and Development group has been set up, to test the different approaches to stewardship and understand which models provide the greater flexibility for differing developments. This includes looking at a number of Garden Communities as they develop (such as Chilmington Green at the South of Ashford Garden Community in Kent, Otterpool Park in Folkstone, and Harlow and Gilston Garden Town in Essex).
- More information can be found on the Essex Developer Group website. The subgroup will meet every 2-3 months moving forward, and will report back to DES as appropriate.
7. DLUHC / Homes England engagement
- JBu reminded the group that regular meetings with DLUHC officials are continuing, so please feed in any points that ought to be raised. The Chairs of the Kent, Essex and East Sussex Developers Groups will also jointly write to the new Housing Minister, Lee Rowley MP, to introduce themselves and hopefully set up a meeting.
8. Local Planning Authority (LPA) updates
- SR updated the group on the sewage discharge issue, flagged at the previous DES meeting, where the Planning Committee at Wealden DC are deferring applications until they receive some reassurance from Southern Water. Officers at Wealden DC have now met with Southern Water and agreed a programme moving forward, but note that this is still a work-in-progress.
9. AOB (any other business)
- JBu advised that a face-to-face networking session is still planned, so any ideas on the venue would be welcome. DES will be kept up to date on progress.
Summary of actions
Attendees and apologies
- AC, Alex Cunningham, Dandara
- AF, Amy Fearn, Rother DC
- AS, Amy Sinclair, Town & Country Housing Group
- BB, Beverley Bayliss, East Sussex CC
- BH, Brian Horton, SELEP
- BP, Brett Pearson, Locate East Sussex
- CBe, Chris Bending, Wealden DC
- CBr, Chris Broome, Sea Change Sussex
- CC, Chris Cheeseman, Redloft
- CM, Chris Moore, Bellway Homes
- DE, Dave Evans, East Sussex CC
- DG, Derek Godfrey, Derek Godfrey Consulting
- DM, David Martin, Stiles Harold Williams Partnership
- EB, Ema Blay, L and G Affordable Homes
- EG, Emma George, Rentplus
- EP, Erica Peck, Rydon Homes
- ES, Edward Sheath, East Sussex CC
- IMV, Ieuan Marks-Venables, DLUHC
- JBa, Joseph Baum, MPC
- JBu, Jonathan Buckwell, (CHAIR) DHA Planning
- JC, Janan Clatworthy, Countryside Partnerships
- JG, James Gray, Clarion Housing Group
- JH, Josh Hemmings, Homes England
- JL, John Longhorn, Vistry Homes
- JM, Joshua Mellor, Stantec
- JP, Jeff Pyrah, Rother DC
- JR, Jason Roberts, Wealden DC
- JS, Janet Shields, Vulcan Ellis
- KB, Kim Bloxham, East Sussex CC
- KC, Kirsty Castle, Batcheller Monkhouse
- LME, Lourdes Madigasekera-Elliott, East Sussex CC
- PC, Peter Coldbreath, Stiles Harold Williams Partnership
- PT, Paul Thomas, Development Land Services Ltd / SELEP
- SC, Simon Collins, Jones Homes
- SR, Stacey Robins, Wealden DC
- TH, Tim Hardwicke, Stiles Harold Williams Partnership
- VG, Vera Gajic, East Sussex CC
- CBk, Chris Brocklebank, Taylor Wimpey
- CBm, Charles Bramly, Stiles Harold Williams Partnership
- MG, Michele Grant, Stantec
- RM, Ravail Marwaha, Taylor Wimpey
- RT, Ryan Trodden, DLUHC