A planning inspector examining Mid Sussex’s local plan has stated his ‘impartiality’ as he has met one of the directors behind plans for a new market town several times.
Jonathan Bore, who began public scrutiny of Mid Sussex District Council’s planning framework on Tuesday, previously worked for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
There he worked with Lady Borwick, now MP for the area, when she was a councillor and met her husband Lord Borwick, a director of Mayfield Market Towns, which is looking to build 10,000 new homes near Sayers Common.
Speaking at the start of the hearing on Tuesday, Mr Bore said: “I occasionally saw Lord Borwick at formal occasions, but I never discussed planning issues with him.
“None of this has any bearing on my impartiality.”
He added: “It’s not my aim or intention to propose any particular site for selection.
“If I were to find the council’s housing requirement was inadequate and needed to increase it would be for the council to decide what sites were brought forward. It’s not my business to do that.”
The hearing started by looking at whether the district council’s plan and its housing figures were sound.
As calculated by council officers, the district’s Objectively Assessed Need has also included an extra 24 homes a year reflecting market signals looking at the group most likely to be affected by housing affordability.
Neil Cameron QC, speaking on behalf of the Mid Sussex Developers Forum, argued that the extra 24 homes a year had only taken into account demographic factors and not market signals.
But Rupert Warren QC, speaking for the district council, said: “It’s extremely difficult to identify any causal relationship between increasing [housing] supply and material effects of an improvement of affordability.”
He added: “Only when you can improve affordability should you be making adjustments.”
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