Developers East Sussex minutes: 26 April 2022

Meeting details

Date: Tuesday 26 April 2022

Time: 2pm

Location: Microsoft Teams

See the list of attendees and apologies for this meeting.


1. Welcome and introductions

  1. JB welcomed the group and delivered the apologies.

2. Review of previous minutes, 8 March 2022

  1. JB confirmed that the action on providing census data to a future DES meeting is in hand.
  2. The minutes were approved by the group as an accurate record of the meeting

3. Market conditions / open forum

  1. The group briefly discussed the current state of the market and the ongoing issues around the supply of materials, labour shortages, price increases etc. The housing market itself seems relatively strong, with a rise in demand for off-plan, and there also seems to be more stability in subcontracting/labour. However, the issues with materials continue, both in terms of their cost and scarcity, so overall build costs are extremely high.
  2. The continuing issues with planning resourcing were also discussed. LP noted that it is an acute issue for Lewes/Eastbourne, in particular appointing to a senior level, as they’re having to take on at a lower level and train up, and SR commented that Wealden DC has been placing adverts for months with little success. JB advised that he is hearing exactly the same thing from senior officers beyond our region, particularly at senior level, so it’s a problem that stretches far wider than the south east.

4. Infrastructure: Transport for the South East (TfSE)

  1. MV delivered a presentation on Transport for the South East (TfSE), one of seven sub-national transport bodies (STBs) across England which were set up to provide strategic transport governance at a larger scale than existing local transport authorities. TfSE was established in 2017 and comprises sixteen local authorities across the south east region.
  2. In 2020 TfSE published its Transport Strategy, setting out a bold 30-year vision for a sustainable transport network. A series of detailed studies was then conducted, leading to the development of a draft Strategic Investment Plan (SIP). MV ran through the main points of the SIP, including the thematic plans, key challenges and interventions (such as east/west and radial corridors), desired outcomes and alignment with wider policy (by not duplicating existing local work and being more strategic).
  3. A public consultation on the draft SIP will run from July to September 2022, with a final draft to be produced in November 2022. Once approved by TfSE’s Partnership Board and constituent authorities, the final SIP will be submitted to Government in March 2023.
  4. DG queried TfSE’s links with National Highways (NH) and whether the consultation will help guide their thinking. MV confirmed that NH is developing its next Road Investment Strategy (RIS-3) in parallel with TfSE’s SIP, and they effectively have an ‘open door’ between them to align where possible through open dialogue.
  5. DG further queried whether the SIP will be updated within its 30-year lifespan. MV gave assurance that as local plans change and the evidence base alters, the SIP will remain dynamic and continue to be refreshed/refined.
  6. JB asked whether the final SIP will be seen by Government as advice or policy. MV clarified that while TfSE is not currently a statutory body (although the case is being put forward), feedback from Government suggests they will treat TfSE advice as if it is – which is reassuring and very encouraging.
  7. MV encouraged all DES colleagues to participate in the consultation, which will be published on the TfSE website, transportforthesoutheast.org.uk, in early July 2022.

5. DLUHC / Homes England engagement

  1. BH advised that the most recent meetings with DLUHC have focused on the problems of planning resourcing (see 3.2 above), with the latest meeting including local authority planning colleagues, demonstrating a unified voice on this issue. DG commented that whilst it’s clearly important for us to continue repeating these messages to Government, we should also expect (and encourage) officials to start coming back with possible solutions.
  2. RT thanked the group for the open invitation to these DES meetings, and reiterated that all of the market intel and feedback discussed here is extremely valuable and is reported back to officials and Ministers at DLUHC.
  3. JB asked DES colleagues to continue feeding in any other issues for discussion with DLUHC. RT added that feedback on market conditions can also be shared with his team directly (on a ‘Chatham House’ basis if preferred) via housingintel@levellingup.gov.uk.

6. Local Planning Authority (LPA) updates

  1. CBe advised that the timetable for publishing the Wealden Local Plan has slowed, but it is expected to be issued in the next 2-3 months. LP advised that a high-level draft Local Plan for Eastbourne is expected to be published towards the end of this year, but for Lewes it will be next year after local elections.
  2. CBe confirmed that he will be taking over the role of Director of Planning, Policy and Environmental Services at Wealden DC from 1 June 2022, as Isabel Garden is retiring.
  3. NF commented that Natural England may have been in touch with some borough/district authorities recently in regard to the phosphates/nitrates issue (reported previously at DES). If that is the case then please note that you are not alone in dealing with the issue, so please get in touch.

Action

6.3 - Borough and District Authority colleagues to advise NF if you have been contacted by Natural England on the phosphates/nitrates issue.


7. AOB (any other business)

  1. JB reminded the group that the annual Leaders Dinner will take place at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne on the evening of 8 June 2022. All full members will have been invited, so please respond ASAP.
  2. BP advised that Locate East Sussex’s Property Consultant, John Wood, has now left so they are looking for a replacement. If anyone is interested or knows someone who would be, please get in touch. The job brief can be viewed here: Locate Property Consultant (Linked-In).
  3. VG reported that the ‘i-Construct’ programme (presented to TES on a number of previous occasions) still has grant funding available, with an application deadline of September 2022: i-construct.org.uk.
  4. BH reminded the group that a series of Viability workshops are currently being run, with the virtual East Sussex workshop scheduled for 19 May 2022. Details have previously been shared with DES, but please contact BH directly for more information.

Summary of actions

6.3 - Borough and District Authority colleagues to advise NF if you have been contacted by Natural England on the phosphates/nitrates issue.


Attendees and apologies

Attendees

  • 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
  • CM, Chris Moore, Bellway Homes
  • DE, Dave Evans, East Sussex CC
  • DG, Derek Godfrey, Westcotte Leach Ltd
  • DMh, David Maher, Barton Willmore
  • DMr, David Martin, Stiles Harold Williams Partnership
  • EP, Erica Peck, Rydon Homes
  • JB, Jonathan Buckwell, (Chair) DHA Planning
  • JC, Janan Clatworthy, Countryside Properties
  • JG, James Gray, Clarion Housing Group
  • JH, Josh Hemmings, Homes England
  • JS, Janet Shields, Vulcan Ellis
  • KC, Kirsty Castle, Batcheller Monkhouse
  • LP, Leigh Palmer, Eastbourne BC / Lewes DC
  • MV, Mark Valleley, Transport for the South East (TfSE)
  • NF, Nick Fenton, Nick Fenton Associates
  • PC, Peter Coldbreath, Stiles Harold Williams Partnership
  • PN, Phillip Naylor, RH Partnership Architects
  • PT, Paul Thomas, Development Land Services Ltd / SELEP
  • RM, Ravail Marwaha, Taylor Wimpey
  • RT, Ryan Trodden, DLUHC
  • SR, Stacey Robins, Wealden DC
  • VG, Vera Gajic, East Sussex CC

Apologies

  • JM, Joshua Mellor, Barton Willmore
  • LME, Lourdes Madigasekera-Elliott, East Sussex CC
  • LS, Lisa Shead, Sussex Weald Homes
  • NB, Nigel Brown, East Sussex CC
  • PM, Patrick MacMahon, Berkeley Homes