David Moore: it’s a myth that house build will kick-start economy

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It seems to have been accepted that we will not see a new NHS hospital with an A&E department built near Horsham.

Even if this had been a real possibility rather than a carrot dangled on a stick linked to a proposed massive house building programme, the delivery of any new hospital would have been some 15 to 20 years in the future.

However, if the Government’s demand to build more and more homes is to be satisfied, questions need to be asked and answers given about what changes will be required to the infrastructure.

Planners seem to assume that the necessary improvements will automatically follow the building programme whilst, in reality, they should be put in place before construction commences.

No-one denies that we may well need more homes in the future, taking into account the increasing longevity of the population and the apparent continuing inward immigration into our area.

However, we need to get the number, location and mix of any new homes right.

We don’t want Horsham to become one of those retirement towns, which people move into when they stop work.

If we are going to build new homes in our town, we need to ensure that they are suitable for our younger people, the next generation of workers, and their families and in the right place.

We also need to ensure that there is a sensible build-out rate on sites, where planning permission has already been granted, before we allocate even more land to house building programmes.

This is extremely important when one realises that planning permission has already been given for 6,000 new homes, which still have to be built in Horsham district.

So what are some of the basic infrastructure requirements that need to be in place? Will we be able to meet the additional electricity, gas and water usage as well as coping with the disposal of the extra waste and sewerage generated?

Can our roads cope with the additional traffic?

The adequate provision of local healthcare will also become more and more difficult as the population ages and the number of people in the area increases.

It demands urgent consideration now before any more new homes are built and it has nothing to do with whether or not a new hospital with A&E facilities is built locally.

Do we need any other healthcare resources and, if so, what are they, where will they be required and how will they be provided?

We can’t afford to continue to plan for housing growth in the haphazard way that has been flavour of the month for so long.

The belief that a kick-start in our house building programme will suddenly boost our economy and solve all our problems is a myth.

We need to approach housing growth in a sensible and logical fashion and accept that it’s only worthwhile if it benefits us, the people.

We cannot afford to allow uncontrolled growth in our existing settlements to damage what we hold most dear.

We must ensure that we build the right homes in sensible places and ensure that we have the infrastructure in place to satisfy our needs.

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.