Council attacked for negotiating in secret with developers

Great House Farm, Southwater, which has been at the centre of Keep Southwater Green's fight to stop 500 homes built on greenfield land.
Great House Farm, Southwater, which has been at the centre of Keep Southwater Green's fight to stop 500 homes built on greenfield land.

An anti-housing campaign group has attacked the council for negotiating with developers behind closed doors.

Ian Thwaites, leader of Keep Southwater Green, said: “It seems to us intolerable that given the history of all that has happened in relation to the Southwater application that Horsham District Council is prepared to negotiate with developers behind closed doors.”

A spokesperson for HDC said: “Strategic planning advisory group (SPAG) is an advisory group to the cabinet member who represents strategic policy at HDC and is not a decision making body, so there are no formal procedures that apply.

“Its function is to review and advise about policy development in the Horsham district.

“It is not part of the planning application process and the meeting referred to did not form part of the discussion about the planning application.”

Dr Thwaites replied: “It is totally undemocratic therefore to allow a third party – in this case a developer – open access to members at such a forum.

“The Berkeley’s presentation, that we could only obtain by using the Freedom of Information Act, far exceeds ‘evidence gathering’ and simple ‘information’. It is a clearly constructed sales pitch for a vast development. It will cause outrage in Southwater, and rightly so.”