It was disappointing that Horsham District Council decided to approve the publication of the Horsham District Planning Framework Proposed Submission at its meeting last week.
It was decided to retain the north of Horsham development that appeared in the Preferred Strategy in 2013, despite all the comments that were received. The only material change was that it was admitted that the dedicated railway station was not an integral part of the strategy for north of Horsham and there was no reason why dwellings, for example, couldn’t be built on the land allocated for a station.
What was worrying was that the supporters of the proposed submission based their arguments more on fear than anything else. We were warned about the nasty government, who were making councils do what they didn’t want to do.
We were also warned about the nasty developers, who would do whatever they wanted if the proposed submission wasn’t accepted.
Unfortunately, fear is not a very good motivator for people, as we can see when we look at what’s happening in the world around us.
One councillor had the temerity to suggest that it would be better to have a strategy that dealt with the provision of a five year land supply until such time as a decision was made on the future of a second runway at Gatwick Airport. This would not include any development north of Horsham.
The benefit of this approach would be that it would give time for a longer term plan to be developed in consultation with all interested parties. Unfortunately, this suggestion was rejected based on the fear factors mentioned earlier.
So what happens now? Do we throw our hands up in horror and give up? The answer is no as there’s still a long way to go.
The next step is for the council to publish its final submission so that representations about the fitness for purpose of the document can be made over a six week period. This six week period has nothing to do with representations to the council and will not lead to any changes being made in the document.
The aim of these representations is to allow a Planning Inspector to consider the comments made about the council’s submission at the same time as looking at the submission itself.
He will make the final decision and decide whether to accept, modify or reject the council’s proposal.
So there’s all to fight for and the battle’s not over by any means.
It will be important to ensure that the representations avoid the ‘not in my back yard’ approach. Whether we like it or not, large numbers of new homes will be built within or adjacent to Horsham District and it’s simply a matter of deciding how many and where they are built.
The same logic will apply to new employment opportunities, which in the ideal world should be intended to reduce outward migration to work of people, who live in the area.
In today’s world, the Port Sunlight concept, where employment is provided for people near to where they live, doesn’t work.
So don’t let’s kid ourselves that a business park generates a need for new homes next to it. There’s a long way to go yet!
The Horsham Society is concerned about the past, present and future of the town.
It seeks to promote good planning and design for the built environment and open spaces.
Membership of the Horsham Society is open to anyone, who shares these concerns.
For more information, visit our website www.horshamsociety.org or telephone 01403 261640.