Neighbourhood Plan key to housing policy

Indicative plans for West End Lane devleopment, where Barratt Homes are planning for 160 homes west of Henfield.
Indicative plans for West End Lane devleopment, where Barratt Homes are planning for 160 homes west of Henfield.

In a radical shift of direction, the council will be actively encouraging villages and communities to shape future housing development in their area.

Horsham District Council has recently come under fire for not engaging communities by one of the town’s leading conservation groups after two leading Conservative councillors declared that Horsham was ‘full’.

John Steele, of the Horsham Society, accused the council of an arrogant top-down approach and failing to engage with parish councils and local communities in comments made late last month.

The County Times also re-launched our ‘It’s Just Plan Crazy’ campaign aimed at giving local residents back their voice in planning issues.

But now Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater) the new cabinet member for living and working communities, is championing the Neighbourhood Plans as a way of allowing communities to take ownership of planning and development in their particular areas.

Positively encouraging Neighbourhood Plans would start with a seminar for parish councils on April 24.

The production of a Neighbourhood Plan would be led by a parish or neighbourhood council, with the involvement of the local community. It would need to be an evidence based document and be in keeping with HDC’s own planning framework..

While the formal stages of Neighbourhood Plans cannot be carried out until Horsham District Council publishes its own draft plan, the initial stages of gathering evidence and engaging with the community can take place now

However villages such as Storrington and Henfield are already having trouble warding off development that they feel will irreparably damage their communities.