New development exposes loophole

JPCT 180412 Site for proposed development on former builders yard on Western side of Stane Street, Billingshurst. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 180412 Site for proposed development on former builders yard on Western side of Stane Street, Billingshurst. Photo by Derek Martin

A DEVELOPMENT has won approval from Horsham District Council, despite offering no affordable homes and being recommended for rejection as a result.

The proposals for 14 homes on the western side of Stane Street, Billingshurst, including large gardens and 32 parking spaces, was voted through by members of HDC’s development control committee on Tuesday April 17.

JPCT 180412 PROPERTIES NEAR site for proposed development on former builders yard on Western side of Stane Street, Billingshurst. Photo by Derek Martin

JPCT 180412 PROPERTIES NEAR site for proposed development on former builders yard on Western side of Stane Street, Billingshurst. Photo by Derek Martin

Developer Hillreed Homes Limited plans to build only 14 houses on the 0.45ha area of land, and so was not obliged to provide affordable homes.

Planning policy stipulates that a development of 15 houses or more or a development on land 0.5ha or larger, has to include affordable homes.

But despite the property narrowly complying with strategy, officers had reasoned the site was capable of hosting ‘at least two further dwellings’.

“It was also put to the applicant that the Council would consider a commuted sum in lieu of affordable homes on the site,” said HDC’s housing development and strategy meeting.

“It is regretted that the applicant has refused to revisit the scheme layout or agree any contribution to affordable housing.”

The developer opted not to build 16 homes or to pay for the amount in lieu as it ‘was already providing a quality development that was more suitable for the site’.

Councillors sitting on the planning committee agreed, giving the development a green light.

Brian Donnelly (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham) said: “We have a site that’s been generously spaced out and when I see 32 car parking spaces for 14 houses I think that’s fantastic and I think it looks like a comfortable nice development.”

Kate Rowbottom (Con, Billingshurst), said it made ‘a nice change to have everyone in agreement’ over a development which would be ‘an improvement on the houses there at the moment’.

And Adam Breacher (Con, Billingshurst) said that residents are concerned about increasing the density of housing to provide affordable homes as ‘additional dwellings would not be in keeping with the other houses’.

However, the decision has prompted David Holmes (LDem, Horsham), who spoke out last week on HDC’s failure to reach its 40 per cent affordable homes target for large new developments, to call for the developer’s loophole to be closed.

Speaking of the Stane Street decision, Dr Holmes told the County Times: “We need to close loopholes like that. It’s quite common and we have to be careful that when we develop out the Horsham district framework the rules within it address that loophole.

“I would suggest there should be some payment towards affordable housing no matter what the number of houses.”

The leader of the local opposition added: “There were recently over 500 families in need of housing. Over the next year it is expected that an additional 200 families will need to be housed and a further 200 will be in need of better accommodation, many because they are over-crowded.

“If more houses are to be built we must ensure that 40 per cent are truly affordable. They must not be mainly expensive properties that can only be afforded by wealthy people retiring to Sussex.”

The Billingshurst site is a former builders’ yard, classified as a brownfield site land, which will require demolition of existing workshops and storage buildings for its redevelopment with five two bedroom, five three bedroom, and four four bedroom dwellings.

The houses will be a mix of two story detached, semi-detached, and chalet dwellings.

Residential development surrounds the site with Luxford Way on the northern and western boundaries, Parbrook to the south and Stane Street to the east.