Planning to fail wildlife

16 September 2020 | Posted in Planning , Jess Price
Planning to fail wildlife
Sussex countryside © Roger Wilmshurst

By Jess Price

Conservation Officer

The Government is proposing a major overhaul of the planning system and this poses a huge threat to Sussex wildlife.

Development pressure in Sussex is already high and these proposals will see an even bigger drive for new housing, without taking into account our environmental limits. It’s vital that nature is at the heart of the planning system but the current proposals will fail wildlife, and people too.

Two major consultations are currently underway, and Sussex Wildlife Trust is responding to both – but we also need to encourage as many individual responses as possible.

We will be providing more information on both consultations and how to respond over the next few weeks, but wanted to bring them both to your attention as soon as possible.

Consultation 1: Changes to the Current Planning System

Deadline: Thursday 1 October 2020
This consultation supposedly sets out measures to ‘improve the effectiveness of the current planning system’. Of the four main proposals, we are most concerned about:

  • Changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need, and
  • Extending the current ‘Permission in Principle’ to major development

Housing numbers are decided by a complicated system whereby a national equation sets out how many homes a local planning authority needs to plan for. The Government’s proposed changes will generate astronomical new housing numbers for many districts:

  • Arun will go from 1,368 per year to 2,063 (+51%)
  • Horsham from 920 per year to 1715 (+86%)
  • Rother from 736 per year to 1173 (+59%)
  • Brighton & Hove from 924 per year to 1520 (+65%)

Even for districts where the number stays the same or goes down, there may be a requirement to take housing from neighbouring districts that can’t deliver their quota. For example, 80% of Rother is in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and therefore has different housing requirements. Whilst Wealden’s housing need is 1,199 under the new system, down from 1,225, they may well have to take on some of Rother’s under-delivery.
We believe the housing numbers proposed by the new system are unachievable for most local councils and developers, resulting in Local Plans failing to meet their housing targets. In this situation local planning authorities have much less say on the types and location of development that goes head. It plays into the hands of speculative developers and creates barriers to the creation of strategic networks for wildlife, where nature is fully integrated into new development.

These changes could be adopted very quickly and will impact the planning system for the next few years. For Sussex Wildlife Trust, it’s not just about the increasing numbers - it’s about a system that takes very little consideration of the environmental capacity needed to absorb and support this level of development. It’s about all the extra greenfield land taken, all the extra drinking water needed and all the new roads built to serve new homes in car-dependent locations.

Consultation 2: Planning for the Future
Deadline: Thursday 29 October 2020
This is the Government’s new vision for housing and basically rips up the current planning system and tries to start again. The Sussex Wildlife Trust is not against reform - we know the current system isn’t working for people or wildlife but we believe the system set out in this White Paper will make things much, much worse. You can read a more detailed response from our colleagues at The Wildlife Trusts.

Click here to find out more and have your say


  • Rosemarie Berry:

    16 Sep 2020 15:50:00

    Please include me in any coordinated response to this corrupt, self-serving government, who have a proven track record of riding roughshod over environmental issues.

  • Anita:

    16 Sep 2020 18:37:00

    Please add me to your emailing list about this issue. Will help with campaigning in Adur if I can.

  • Catherine Linstrem:

    16 Sep 2020 20:11:00

    Please add me. I’ve recently written to Lewes District Council, Ringmer Parish Council and the South Down Trust regarding this in our village of Ringmer.

  • Lisa Slater:

    17 Sep 2020 07:53:00

    please add me to this mailing list. So sick of this government, it clearly holds environmentmental issues in very low regard

  • paul duncan:

    17 Sep 2020 08:13:00

    there are enough brown fill sites and existing town/city can be redeveloped to provide more housing.if it were really necessary. one gets suspicious that these changes are set up just for benefiting certain companies and their owners and concern for wild life is only shown in terms of how far one can get away with damaging the environments natural bio-Diversity.

  • Rory Gillespie:

    17 Sep 2020 09:37:00

    As a Youth Ranger volunteer I find this plan outrageous that the government can do such a thing! They clearly don’t care about the environment and don’t care about the consequences! Please add me to any coordinated responses and add me to your mailing list. Thank you

  • Rachel Gales:

    17 Sep 2020 15:38:00

    The environment, nature and the animals we inhabit our world with deserve protecting.


    17 Sep 2020 22:19:00

    Hi, trust I’m on the list forthese briefings. Not only are these plans so harmful – including for Chichester District – but they are put forward with no evidence – witness Boris’s derogatory remarkd about “newt counters”. Evidence shows that the requirements to address wildlife habitats etc has NOT showed up any planning application – see NE research.

  • Natalie Drake:

    19 Sep 2020 13:02:00

    I fear the new changes and have zero trust in this government to protect wildlife and endangered species. Here in Lindfield we have 2 developments on opposite sides of the road. One is directly behind the house in a meadow where we have seen deer, hedgehogs, woodpeckers, partridge, insects and the list goes on. I’m scared this development will wipe out this rich habitat completely and the area will lose out. They have already felled a whole area of trees and started making a road through the meadow of wildflowers. They seem to have no plans for wildlife in the area. Its sickening. Please keep me informed and I’ll do what I can to help protect our countryside.

  • Jacqueline Little:

    19 Sep 2020 14:18:00

    Although I now live in Hampshire I previously lived most of my life in Horsham District. Horsham is always asked to take an unfair burden of housing. On returning to Horsham via A272 I see ugly new developments without a tree in sight. Other parts of Sussex are spared. Why always Horsham District for extra housing?

  • Linda Lord:

    21 Sep 2020 09:06:00

    We are currently fighting a 160 home development on green pasture behind our property neighbouring Pevensey levels which is a biological Site of special scientific interest. An appeal has now been lodged by the Applicant to try to overturn the decision taken by RDC’s Planning. The fight goes on.

  • Chris Piper:

    24 Sep 2020 11:29:00

    Already current planning regs fall short of the required measures for adequate conservation measures. This is all about short term gain for a few and typical of the current partys style of leadership.

  • Mary Jones:

    24 Sep 2020 12:48:00

    I live in Arun and already the consequences of over development are having a very serious effect on all local facilities such as health services, sewers and road infrastructure . Wildlife appears to be given no consideration other than a short delay in the destruction of woodland – to allow for nesting maybe ? Where will the newly hatched birds now survive ?

  • Andre Suwalsky:

    24 Sep 2020 15:39:00

    This is not good news for the environment and wild life! However for those who constantly blame this government for everything I would remind people that a labour government is far worse for wild life! When they were in power they tried to plan building on green sites and one labour minister, at the time, was not ashamed to push forward plans to built houses at even the bottom of your garden regardless!

  • Teresa:

    24 Sep 2020 16:04:00

    Masses of local wildlife is already under threat and becoming more visible to humans I have nightly visits from badgers and foxes due to the proximity of fields and woodlands. Please don’t keep building on green fields

  • Jennie Hancock:

    24 Sep 2020 21:39:00

    Living in Horsham all of my life I am worried about the seemingly ever increasing developments in and around the town. The plans to build on the Rookwood golf course will be a disastrous loss to the town, a terrible eyesore of high rise buildings totally out of keeping with an historic market town, and with a probable detrimental effect on the neighbouring Warnham nature reserve which is a wonderful amenity for the local population.

  • Hugh Wylam:

    24 Sep 2020 22:51:00

    That we have no clean rivers in England should be a national disgrace – instead we are being asked to build ever more houses in the region of the country that has less rainfall than South Sudan or Perth in Australia

  • Peter Varlow:

    26 Sep 2020 14:10:00

    Land use is the crucial factor in wildlife conservation. I am happy to write letters or help in any other way.

  • Laura wright:

    27 Sep 2020 09:50:00

    Stop the building of mayfield market town in Sussex

  • Sarah Hilliard:

    28 Sep 2020 10:16:00

    I have seen increased local wildlife movement in my garden and in immediate area which is in vicinity of proposed housing development in AONB on land north of Eridge Road Crowborough , developers already on site . Please challenge WDC on this scheme and keep me in loop on helping to fight for wildlife v housing.

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