Concern over plan comments change

A CHANGE to the system of commenting on planning applications submitted to Horsham District Council requiring residents to register on its website has led to concern from campaigners.

But the council said it was ‘normal’ to register on online sites, it provided a tracking system and there was no limit to the number of representations an individual could make.

Members of the Save Our Sussex Alliance said they were told the change had been made due to the same letters being submitted again and again by an individual, so limiting the letters needing consideration by committee.

They believed this was in contradiction of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and UK Human Rights Act 1997/8.

“It seems that HDC are wanting to limit the amount of letters they receive to an application due to the increased awareness of the planning situation in the district,” they said.

A spokesperson for Horsham District Council said: “We have just installed an upgrade to our own computerised planning system Idox Uniform, which contains the additional benefit of being able to register their details before they comment about a particular planning application (a normal process on most online sites these days).

“This registration is seen to be a benefit to the public because it provides a tracking system and automatically sends notifications when an application is updated/determined, etc.

“The member of public can also bookmark searches made and these automatically appear within their account and thus provides easy access.

“There is no limit to the number of representations they can make in relation to a particular planning application or applications.

“It is considered overall to be an improvement to our online planning system for customers and a change which customers should quickly see will provide positive benefits.

“If the customer does not wish to register online then they still retain the options to send comments by email to Horsham District Council at planning@horsham.gov.uk or by letter and delivering it by hand or by post.

“We don’t regard Article 10 as being contravened since there are other ways of getting comments across, via email, post and delivered by hand.”