MP urges Government to assess the ability of local infrastructure to cope with more housing

Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames
Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames

Nicholas Soames MP has asked the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the transport, road, waste and energy infrastructure in West Sussex and Mid Sussex constituency for current and projected demand for housing.

Mr Soames, an outspoken critic of what he deems to be inappropriate development in his constituency, also questioned if the Minister will review the infrastructure in West Sussex and Mid Sussex constituency in the light of current and projected demand for housing.

Answering the Parliamentary Written Question, Nick Boles MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, said: “The National Planning Policy Framework sets out clearly that local planning authorities should work with other authorities and providers to assess the quality and capacity of infrastructure for transport, water supply, wastewater and its treatment, energy (including heat), telecommunications, utilities, waste, health, social care, education, flood risk and costal change management, and its ability to meet forecast demands.

“National policy must be taken into account in developing Local Plans and is a material consideration in respect of individual planning applications (irrespective of whether areas have a Local Plan in place).

“I hope my right hon. Friend will appreciate, however, that as planning is a matter devolved to local councils I cannot comment on the situation in Mid Sussex specifically.

“Infrastructure was an issue raised as part of the BETA testing of new planning guidance and we are carefully considering the points raised before issuing the final version of the guidance.”

Speaking to the Mid Sussex Times, Mr Soames added: “We’re under pressure in Mid Sussex, and elsewhere, but in particular in Mid Sussex, to accept more houses.

“We can accept new houses up to a certain number but more than that we simply do not have the infrastructure to cope.

“The point of my question is to try to get the Government to conduct its own audit of how really our roads and our railways are simply not up to the kind of loads they are expected to carry.”

Reflecting on the answer received, Mr Soames added: “What I would like it to say, and what I am going to press them to say, is as they refine these housing numbers that they actually then do an audit in light of those numbers.

“The ideal answer to my question would be to say ‘yes you’re right, the infrastructure is definitely overloaded and we cannot put anymore houses your way’, but that is not going to happen.”

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