Developers East Sussex minutes: 24 January 2023
Date: 24 January 2023
Location: Microsoft Teams
See the list of attendees and apologies for this meeting.
1. Welcome and introductions
- JB welcomed the group to the meeting.
2. Review of previous minutes, 6 December 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.
- Materials pressures have eased, but in general the build rate has not yet recovered, possibly due to the recent bad weather. Sales have continued to be a challenge, with footfall down across most sites; shared ownership sales seem to be an exception as they’re holding up quite well. Mortgage rates have settled since the Autumn Statement, with more products now available, but ‘confidence’ in the market is still an issue, and this is likely to be compounded when Help to Buy comes to an end.
- The commercial market is quite positive, with continued interest in commercial property, albeit ‘cautious’ enquiries due to high interest rates, and mostly from larger businesses (with smaller businesses still voicing concerns about energy costs). However, with very little availability, the supply cannot meet the demand. According to the reports produced by SHW, East Sussex has some of the lowest availability across the southeast region, and therefore has the lowest activity.
- First Homes was briefly discussed, but there continues to be very little local interest following the pilot programmes. There may also still be a lack of understanding in regard to who is responsible and who will manage the programmes within local authorities.
- In terms of Planning, BH advised that he and Planning colleagues attended a recent meeting with the Housing and Planning Minister, where all of our resourcing concerns were raised (echoed by other colleagues). The Minister is trying to understand the backlogs, causes and solutions, and while long-term investment in the profession is clearly needed, it seems she wants to make quick progress.
4. Housing stats: annual update
- KB delivered a presentation covering some of the recent data releases from the 2021 Census, including statistics on housing supply, housing affordability and housing need in East Sussex, broken down to Borough/District level (or lower in some cases) and highlighting the more significant changes since the previous Census ten years earlier. Figures were provided on the number of households, their tenure, accommodation types, plus data on occupancy rates, renewable heating and car ownership. More information is available on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website, including Census maps, Custom Area Profiles and articles on How your area has changed in 10 years broken down by local authority area. There are also Census publications on the East Sussex in Figures (ESiF) website. Further categories of Census data will be released later this year.
- KB also provided her regular ‘annual update’ on housing statistics in East Sussex, including supply (starts and completions), affordable supply, affordability and housing need. Again, there is more housing data on the ESiF website.
5. DES priorities for 2023/24
- JB asked the group to consider whether there are any topics, themes or guest presenters we ought to bring to DES meetings over the coming year. This is a regular ask at our January DES meetings, and last year there were some great suggestions, all of which were covered over the course of the year.
- Some of the immediate responses from the group included discussing any changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) whenever they come into effect; Skills East Sussex (SES) and the work of their construction sector task group; updates on the East Sussex Local Transport Plan and any new Economic Strategy that may be developed; inviting ESCC Highways, Southern Water and the Environment Agency (specifically their Flood Team, and especially if there are changes to the Schedule 3 Flood and Water Management Act); and possibly inviting someone from the Environment Bank to discuss Biodiversity Net Gain requirements.
- JB asked colleagues to pass on any other suggestions via email over the coming weeks. He also asked the group to consider whether they are happy to continue with the current meeting schedule (six-weekly virtual meetings) or if they would like to make any changes, and again feed this back via email.
- JB reminded the group that a face-to-face networking session is still planned for this year, most likely in the spring, plus we have the annual ‘Dinner with the Leader’ for full members in the summer. More details will follow on both events in due course.
5.3 - DES colleagues to consider possible topics, themes or guest presenters for the year ahead, and also the ongoing DES meeting schedule, and pass any suggestions/comments onto JB.
- JB highlighted the Government consultation on proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Consultation on reforms to national planning policy, open until 2 March 2023. The consultation provides details on potential immediate and future changes to national policy to support the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, plus other legislative changes that may be brought forward, and includes a table of 58 questions for response. JB agreed to circulate summary information on the proposed changes highlighted in the consultation after today’s meeting.
- The group discussed whether a single consultation response should be provided on behalf of all DES colleagues, but agreed instead that it would be preferable to submit as many responses as possible. All DES colleagues are therefore encouraged to respond individually.
- JB noted that there are likely to be further consultations throughout the year as the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill moves forward, so they will be flagged/discussed at DES when appropriate.
6.1 - JB to circulate summary information on the Government’s NPPF consultation.
6.2 - DES colleagues to respond to the Government’s NPPF consultation by 2 March 2023.
7. DLUHC / Homes England engagement
- JB reminded the group that regular monthly meetings with DLUHC officials are continuing, with the next conversation scheduled for tomorrow, so colleagues are invited to feed in any points that ought to be raised. DG flagged an item covered at our last DES meeting on commercial business rates (having to pay as soon as the commercial property is completed) and requested that it be raised.
- JH highlighted the ‘Levelling Up Home Building Fund’ from Homes England, which provides support for small and medium sized housebuilders who are struggling to access traditional development finance. He noted that the fund is still not particularly well known so asked DES colleagues to please promote it as appropriate.
8. Local Planning Authority (LPA) updates
- Borough and District officers commented that development of their Local Plans is largely on-hold for the moment, with NPPF changes and local elections in the early part of this year having an obvious impact. Officers will provide updates on revised timescales in due course.
- JP advised that Rother DC will have a new Development Manager starting next month.
9. AOB (any other business)
- IS noted that DLUHC has announced £500m of capital funding to support local authorities provide more ‘move-on’ accommodation for asylum seekers (who have arrived in the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme, the Homes for Ukraine Scheme and the Afghan Resettlement Scheme). It’s understood the fund will also aim to provide a new and permanent supply of accommodation for local authorities to help address local housing and homelessness pressures. CBe confirmed that while the full list of local authorities’ allocations has not yet been published, Wealden DC has been made an ‘offer’ of an allocation (subject to a lot of terms), so officers are working to develop a suitable programme.
- AM advised that the Better Social Housing Review has now published its report and recommendations.
Summary of actions
5.3 DES colleagues to consider possible topics, themes or guest presenters for the year ahead, and also the ongoing DES meeting schedule, and pass any suggestions/comments onto JB.
6.1 JB to circulate summary information on the Government’s NPPF consultation.
6.2 DES colleagues to respond to the Government’s NPPF consultation by 2 March 2023.
Attendees and apologies
- AC, Alex Cunningham, Dandara
- AM, Annabel McKie, Redloft
- 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
- CD, Christine Dadswell, Batcheller Monkhouse
- CM, Chris Moore, Bellway Homes
- DE, Dave Evans, East Sussex CC
- DG, Derek Godfrey, Derek Godfrey Consulting
- DM, David Martin, Stiles Harold Williams Partnership
- EP, Erica Peck, Rydon Homes
- ES, Edward Sheath, East Sussex CC
- ET, Ed Tibbetts, Orbit Homes
- IS, Ian Scott, Town & Country Housing Group
- JB, Jonathan Buckwell, (CHAIR) DHA Planning
- JC, Janan Clatworthy, Countryside Partnerships
- JHe, Josh Hemmings, Homes England
- JHu, Jonathan Hugo, Berkeley Homes
- JMa, James Malyon, Taylor Wimpey
- JMe, Joshua Mellor, Stantec (formerly Barton Willmore)
- JMu, Joan Mumo, L and G Affordable Homes
- JP, Jeff Pyrah, Rother DC
- KB, Kim Bloxham, East Sussex CC
- KC, Kirsty Castle, Batcheller Monkhouse
- LD, Lee Davies, HNW Architects
- LN, Leah Needham, ilke Homes
- MB, Mark Bewsey, DHA Planning
- MS, Matt Suggitt, ilke Homes
- MT, Mat Trewin, Willmott Dixon Construction
- NF, Nick Fenton, Nick Fenton Associates
- NW, Nichola Watters, Wealden DC
- PC, Peter Coldbreath, Stiles Harold Williams Partnership
- PT, Paul Thomas, Development Land Services Ltd / SELEP
- RE, Rachel Evans, East Sussex CC
- RTa, Rebecca Taylor, Dandara
- RTr, Ryan Trodden, DLUHC
- SC, Simon Collins, Jones Homes
- SR, Stacey Robins, Wealden DC
- THa, Tim Hardwicke, Stiles Harold Williams Partnership
- THi, Tom Hichisson, Clarion Housing Group
- AF, Amy Fearn, Rother DC
- CBk, Chris Brocklebank, Taylor Wimpey
- ED, Emma Davies, Redloft
- EG, Emma George, Rentplus
- JG, James Gray, Clarion Housing Group
- PN, Phillip Naylor, RH Partnership Architects
- VG, Vera Gajic, East Sussex CC