“This report explodes some of the myths that have grown up around this issue, and we hope it will be recognised by planning authorities as a helpful guide to best practice in both building new homes and supporting local wildlife.
“Local authorities should take account of the evidence it presents and follow its recommendations in lifting the moratorium on new homes as a matter of urgency. This would be good news for the community and for local families whose children would otherwise be forced to leave the area once they have a family themselves.”
The report opens the way for an urgent lifting of the moratorium on the building of new homes for local people across thirteen local authorities in Surrey, East Berkshire and North East Hampshire which was imposed as a result of Natural England's Draft Delivery Plan.
The moratorium had arisen because of uncertainty over how best to mitigate against the risk of increased recreational use of nearby heathland, and how this might impact adversely on wildlife habitats for ground-nesting birds. The report follows in-depth consideration of extensive written evidence over seven days of technical meetings with expert witnesses. In the light of the evidence, the Assessor cautioned against the recommendations of the Natural England Draft Delivery Plan, proposing several practical alternative measures for ensuring housing supply for local people whilst best protecting nearby wildlife habitats.
Notes to editors
1. The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is the principal trade federation for private sector home builders and voice of the home building industry in England and Wales. The HBF’s 300 member firms account for over 80% of all new homes built in England and Wales in any one year, and include companies of all sizes, ranging from multi-national, household names through regionally based businesses to small local companies: www.hbf.co.uk
2. The Thames Basin Heaths SPA was created on 9th March 2005, covering 8,400 hectares across 11 local authority areas in North Surrey, East Berkshire and North East Hampshire.
3. The area covered by the SPA and its immediate vicinity has been designated to accommodate 40,000 new homes in the next ten years, including 12,000 units of affordable housing.
4. The full report to the panel for the Draft South East Plan Examination in Public can be found at:
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