East Hampshire District Council is urging the South Downs National Park Authority to accept more sites for housing to ease the pressure on the district to build houses.

The call by council leader Cllr Richard Millard comes as the park launches an appeal for individuals, landowners and developers to put forward potential development sites in the park.

He said: “Currently hundreds of houses are being built in just half of East Hampshire with hardly any in the national park.

“The national park needs to take more housing.”

The divisive issue of where to build in East Hampshire arises as part of it is inside the national park and part outside.

At the moment the parks local plan, approved by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, has a provision of 4,750 homes over 19 years from 2014/15 to 2032/33.

This equates to 250 homes a year covering the entire 1,627km2 National Park area that includes parts of Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex.

But in the part of East Hampshire outside the park, around 250km2, the government says more than 600 houses a year have to be built.

Cllr Millard added: “We can’t continue putting all the housing in half of the district.

“The national park being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty isn’t a reason to avoid building new houses in it.

“It’s time the park’s umbrella protection against new development is removed, and the park sucked it up and took more houses.”

The ‘call for sites’ by the national park authority is part of a review of its Local Plan.

Potential sites can be put forward for consideration for a range of uses, including housing, offices, manufacturing, warehouses, renewable energy and gypsy and traveller sites.

National park authority planning policy manager Lucy Howard said: “We’re asking people to put forward sites for a whole range of uses.

“But just because a site is put forward it does not mean it will be allocated and, of course, landscape will always come first in our appraisal.

“This call for sites is a review rather than a new plan, and we will be keeping our award-winning landscape-led approach to allocating sites.”

The call for sites runs until midnight on September 28. To put forward land visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/CallForSites2022

For details about the call for sites and the Local Plan review visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/south-downs-local-plan-review/call-for-sites-2022/faqs/