Developers East Sussex minutes: 9 May 2023
Date: 9 May 2023
Location: Microsoft Teams
See the list of attendees and apologies for this meeting.
1. Welcome and introductions
JB welcomed the group and introduced JPo who is the Head of Housing and Community Services at Rother District Council.
JB shared the sad news of the passing of Councillor Rupert Simmons who was a strong supporter of DES over the years.
2. Review of previous minutes, 7 March 2023
The minutes were approved as an accurate record of the meeting.
There were no actions from the previous meeting.
3. Market conditions / open forum
The group discussed the large demand for houses, with a particular focus on shared ownership properties.
The planning environment is continuing to see delays, and materials costs also continue to increase, but that is also the picture nationally. JB advised that there is little sign of a slow down on Public Sector estate and building projects or commercial activity, with the market getting busier to meet demands. BP is reporting that Locate East Sussex have found three land possibilities for commercial space to accommodate high demand.
Builders of small-to-medium sized properties are increasingly busy, with both JB and JM seeing an increase of work. The only projects that have stopped are ones that have been cautious not to conflict with Green Belt work. We are not likely to see a change in this area until Government moves forward with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
Water neutrality is an obstacle that developers are facing in West Sussex, particularly in Horsham, Crawley, and parts of Chichester. Water neutrality seeks to ensure that there is sufficient water to satisfy everybody and the environment without using all the water that’s available or burdening the ecosystems.
Development can only proceed if developers can demonstrate that the builds won’t use more water than is currently used on the site at present. Some authorities such as Crawley are looking to retrofit their own stock and asking developers to pay into the scheme. Solutions are being investigated, one of which is putting infrastructure in place to have enough water from the start of the build.
ACTION – The group will raise this issue with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).
The concerns are exacerbated with the increase of the price per square foot to build, with predictions that this will remain for the next 12 to 18 months.
4. Skills East Sussex: Construction Task Group
HA and CBg delivered a presentation on the work that the Employability and Skills team are doing around ensuring East Sussex residents have access to skills, training, and employment opportunities.
They are currently working with Jobcentre Plus to develop sector-based work academies to teach people about the construction sector. This work aims to address the stereotypes around the sector, particularly the attitudes to returners to the workforce and women. FE Sussex is running a teachers encounter event on 5 July 2023 so schools and colleges can teach students about sector-specific technologies.
The team is seeking industry champions to visit schools and talk about the different routes into the sector and help students get into employment or access work experience through the task group. Through the ESTAR programme, the team is helping place those in supported or temporary accommodation and Ukrainian refugees into employment.
ACTION – Contact HA or CBg if you are interested in becoming an industry champion or want to support the ESTAR programme.
The presentation discussed the Transform programme which is a partnership between East Sussex County Council and Sussex Council of Training Providers (SCTP). The programme helps businesses access an apprenticeship levy to encourage local organisations to support an apprentice. The partnership is running an Apprenticeships Roadshow on 21 June and 12 July 2023.
There is a Skills Summit on 25 May 2023 at the Welcome Centre in Eastbourne. The day will be divided into three sections: future skills, upskilling the workforce and recruitment.
5. National planning consultations
There is a 12-week technical consultation on the Infrastructure Levy which is running from 17 March to 9 June 2023. The Infrastructure Levy is a reform to the existing system of developer contributions – Section 106 planning obligations and the Community Infrastructure in England. The consultation will inform the design of the Levy and of regulations that will set out its operation in detail.
There are concerns around the Levy, which will be a locally set and mandatory charge levied on the final value of completed developments to replace the existing system of developer contributions. By charging the Levy on the value of the completed development, the amount collected will increase as development prices increase, or reduce as prices drop.
A consultation into the introduction of a short-term let use class is being held until 7 June 2023. The consultation will examine the planning measures that Government can implement to help local areas have greater ability to control any future increase in the number of short-term lets in their area, with their aim to support the retention of existing properties to buy or rent. The consultation also proposes to introduce new national permitted development rights.
A consultation following Part 6 of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which will implement a new system of environmental assessment known as the Environmental Outcomes Reports (EOR), is open until 9 June 2023. The EOR allows Government to reflect its environmental priorities directly into plan-making and decision-making processes on the largest developments.
6. Sustainable Construction report
- Locate East Sussex have created the Sustainable Construction report to promote East Sussex as a suitable destination for businesses, particularly those in the timber and clay sectors and for businesses that use natural local resources. The report showed that East Sussex has the largest woodland populated area in the country outside of Surrey, with most Sussex timber being utilised for frames, decorative cladding, and in restorations and extensions (often to match the species used in older buildings).
7. DLUHC / Homes England engagement
JB meets every month with DLUHC and Homes England to learn about things that may be of interest to DES colleagues and highlight issues the group are having locally.ACTION – Raise any issues with JB, BH or NF to be raised at future meetings.
8. Local Planning Authority (LPA) updates
In response to the local elections, many areas have changed politically, though it was deemed too early to be able to predict what the changes will mean. CBe reiterated that new County Councillors are briefed on the importance of local plans and building new homes, and acknowledged DES’s longstanding offer to help deliver training in this regard.
The Independent review of build out: final report has been released, which assessed how to close the significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned.
9. AOB (any other business)
The next in-person networking event is on 24 May 2023 at the DHA Offices in Crawley. Invites have been sent but contact JB or DE if the invite has not been received.
The Leaders Dinner will be held at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, but the group agreed that it should be postponed until after the summer. Further details will be shared in due course.
Summary of actions
3.4 - The group to raise the issue of water neutrality with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).
4.3 - DES colleagues to contact HA or CBg if interested in becoming an industry champion or want to support the ESTAR programme.
7.1 - DES colleagues to flag any issues with JB, BH or NF to be raised at future meetings with DLUHC.
Attendees and apologies
- BB, Beverley Bayliss, East Sussex CC
- BHr, Brian Horton, SELEP
- BP, Brett Pearson, Locate East Sussex
- CBe, Chris Bending, Wealden DC
- CBg, Caroline Bragg, East Sussex CC
- CBk, Chris Brocklebank, Taylor Wimpey
- CBr, Chris Broome, Sea Change Sussex
- CD, Christine Dadswell, Batcheller Monkhouse
- CM, Chris Mian, Whitehall Homes
- DE, Dave Evans, East Sussex CC
- DG, Derek Godfrey, Derek Godfrey Consulting
- ED, Emma Davies, Redloft
- ET, Ed Tibbetts, Orbit Homes
- EW, Emma Ward, Berkeley Homes
- HA, Holly Aquilina, East Sussex CC
- IS, Ian Scott, Town & Country Housing Group
- JB, Jonathan Buckwell, (CHAIR) DHA Planning
- JC, Janan Clatworthy, Countryside Partnerships
- JG, James Gray, Clarion Housing Group
- JHe, Josh Hemmings, Homes England
- JHu, Jonathan Hugo, Berkeley Homes
- JM, Joshua Mellor, Stantec
- JPo, Joe Powell, Rother DC
- JPy, Jeff Pyrah, Rother DC
- JR, Jason Roberts, Wealden DC
- KB, Kim Bloxham, East Sussex CC
- KC, Kirsty Castle, Batcheller Monkhouse
- KE, Kemi Erifevieme, Rother DC
- NF, Nick Fenton, Nick Fenton Associates
- PC, Peter Coldbreath, Stiles Harold Williams Partnership
- RE, Rachel Evans, East Sussex CC
- RM, Ravail Marwaha, Taylor Wimpey
- RT, Ryan Trodden, DLUHC
- SC, Simon Collins, Jones Homes
- SH, Sean Havis, Barratt David Wilson Homes
- TH, Tim Hardwicke, Stiles Harold Williams Partnership
- AF, Amy Fearn, Rother DC
- BHk, Ben Hook, Rother DC
- EG, Emma George, Rentplus
- ES, Edward Sheath, East Sussex CC
- RW, Richard White, Southern Housing