Parish council turned down private meeting with North Horsham developer

Roger Wilton, pictured in 2014, said that they would only meet the North Horsham developer in public
Roger Wilton, pictured in 2014, said that they would only meet the North Horsham developer in public

An invitation for a private meeting with the North Horsham developer was turned down by the town’s parish council.

Liberty Property Trust has submitted a planning application for 2,750 homes, business park, schools, community facilities and infrastructure improvements on land north of the A264 to Horsham District Council.

Roger Wilton, chairman of North Horsham Parish Council, said they had been approached by Liberty about having a private meeting but they had declined the invitation.

He added: “We are not having any private meetings with developers. If they want to meet us we will have a public meeting. We do not need meetings behind closed doors.”

At a meeting last Thursday (September 1), councillors agreed that the parish council’s planning committee would lead on work to put together a response to Liberty’s planning application.

They also approved an £8,000 budget if planning consultants are needed, and an extraordinary council meeting at a later date to allow residents to voice their opinions.

Mr Wilton explained that although the battle had been lost when the planning inspector agreed with the inclusion of the North Horsham site in HDC’s local plan, ‘the much more important business starts’ in scrutinising the documents provided by Liberty.

He was ‘somewhat bemused’ that the application had appeared in the middle of August, and thought describing putting traffic lights on roundabouts as an upgrade ‘the most ridiculous comment I have ever heard by an expert’.

Ray Turner added: “What we are looking for is to make the best of a really bad job. Liberty have got nowhere near making the best of a bad job.”

The amount of affordable housing set to be provided in the new development was criticised last week, but Frances Haigh pointed out that due to the financial viability of the scheme they could not ‘ask for everything’.

She added: “Most of the negotiation will be carried out by Horsham District Council.

“We can say we need this and this to support the community.”

Both parish councils in Colgate and Rusper as well as Horsham Denne Neighbourhood Council have already lodged their objections to the planning application.

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