DOING away with the South East Plan has left Rother District Council faced with having to accommodate 10,000 new homes by 2028.
On Monday, the council’s Cabinet resolved to make its concerns known to an inspector examining core strategy, and to have findings from extra work being done to address matters raised by the inspector reported back to a future meeting.
Cllr Lord Ampthill (Con) said: “We are over a barrel. At first it was 4,100 new homes, then 4,800. Suddenly to be expected to take 10,000 really is quite extraordinary.”
Fellow Tory Cllr Bridget George alluded to a line from a Joni Mitchell song when she said: “I can’t help feeling this is akin to ‘pave Paradise, put up a parking lot.’”
The South East Plan, revoked by the Government on March 25, had distributed an average of 280 dwellings a year to Rother, but this was now more than doubled.
Cllr Sue Prochak (Lib Dem) said: “Come back, South East Plan. 80 per cent of Rother is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and you can’t make one size fit all. To build that many houses will destroy the AONB. It’s an extraordinary imposition that makes localism a farce.”
Cllr Angharad Davies (Con) said it was “terribly, terribly important” that Rother protects its AONB, and urged: “We must put up a fight about this.”
Cllr Paul Lendon (Ind) claimed Rother was already “cracking at the seams” and called for the local MP and the inspector to attend a debate before full council.
Council leader Cllr Carl Maynard (Con) said: “It’s deeply disturbing that an unelected inspector is telling us how many houses to build. This authority has been consistently committed to sustainable economic growth, but housing needs and economic growth go hand-in-hand. I hope that we are extremely robust in our response.”
Cllr Brian Kentfield said Rother needed to get its facts and figures to hand - for instance, whether water supplies were even available for so many new homes - to make its challenge.