Plans for 800 new homes in Southwater should represent ‘line in the sand’

Keep Southwater Green members hand over a petition to Horsham District Council chairman days before the council approved 593 homes west of Worthing Road, Southwater Photo by � 2015 Art Hutchins ~ www.artseye.me SUS-150217-152844001

Keep Southwater Green members hand over a petition to Horsham District Council chairman days before the council approved 593 homes west of Worthing Road, Southwater Photo by � 2015 Art Hutchins ~ www.artseye.me SUS-150217-152844001

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Plans for almost 800 new homes in Southwater should represent a ‘line in the sand’ for future development in the village.

Keep Southwater Green (KSG) has written to the planning inspector after examination hearings into Horsham District Council’s local housing plan resumed earlier this month.

The authority has already approved separate applications for 594 homes west of Worthing Road and for 193 units off Mill Straight south of the village.

Inspector Geoff Salter held a day of hearings on Friday July 3 but campaigners have raised concerns that infrastructure issues such as road and sewage capacity had not been fully discussed.

In his letter to Mr Salter Richard Page, acting chairman of KSG, said: “Because HDC has granted two planning applications in the middle of the planning framework process KSG quite understand the reasoning behind your comment which was to the effect that ‘it’s happened, let’s move on’.

“However it would be most helpful to the people of Southwater that this new total of 787 units now becomes the final word on the matter and we would be grateful if you could draw the proverbial line in the sand.”

Feedback he had received suggested that the state of infrastructure in the district was not ‘fully presented and in particularly that appertaining to traffic’ at the July 3 hearing.

A traffic study commissioned by Southwater Parish Council recently showed that both Hop Oast and Pollards Hill roundabouts were already at capacity before any housebuilding had started.

It found both were generally at around 85 per cent capacity during the morning peak, with the A24 northbound at Pollards Hill being at 98 per cent of its capacity at times.

Nine days of examination hearings on HDC’s local plan were held in November 2014 and in Mr Salter’s initial report released just before Christmas he told the council to up its housing target from 13,000 to up to 15,000 homes up to 2031.

HDC then approved modifications to its plan for consultation in March.

Meanwhile an attempt by Tory backbench councillors to amend the plan to increase Southwater’s housing allocation and delete the 2,500-home North of Horsham scheme was defeated at a Full Council meeting last month.

Speaking to the County Times Mr Page said he did not feel the planning process had given the proper protection to Southwater.

But he argued that KSG had successfully raised the concerns and the profile of Southwater residents and had ‘drawn that line for the immediate future’ in terms of any more development.

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