Tories attempt to shelve proposed 2,500-home North Horsham development

Karen Burgess, who tabled the motion, narrowly lost the vote tonight
Karen Burgess, who tabled the motion, narrowly lost the vote tonight

An attempt to shelve the proposed North Horsham development has been tabled by Conservative councillors.

A Notice of Motion has been submitted for Horsham District Council’s next Full Council meeting on Wednesday June 24 to delete the proposed 2,500 homes north of the A264 from its local plan and allocate the housing elsewhere in the district.

Jonathan Dancer (submitted) SUS-141217-105315001

Jonathan Dancer (submitted) SUS-141217-105315001

Under the proposed amendments the allocation west of Southwater would increase from around 600 homes to 2,500, with around 500 units included east of the A24 at Kingsfold.

A total of 17 councillors have signed the tabling of the motion, which was proposed by Karen Burgess (Con, Holbrook East), and seconded by Jonathan Dancer (Con, Roffey North).

Mrs Burgess said: “Jonathan and I both feel, along with a sizeable group of other councillors that this housing plan is wrong. It is wrong in so many ways. It is our duty as local councillors to reflect what our electorate is telling us.

“Nearly 3,000 residents have shown their dismay at a process that has totally excluded them from the debate about this important issue. This is an issue that affects the whole district.

“Losing the northern boundary of Horsham and the strategic gap robs the entire district of the protection it provides from coalescence between Horsham and Crawley and the villages and hamlets in-between.

“It is not something we should undertake lightly as it will impact upon the lives of those in the towns and the villages in the North and South.”

Mr Dancer added: “A year ago, neither of us had any intention of entering politics. We were so shocked at the undemocratic way this plan has been pushed through that we put ourselves before the electorate to help make a change.”

“When a plan is bad, you know it. Everyone knows it – nearly 3,000 people have signed a petition saying they know it.”

He continued: “I am concerned that as a council, we risk giving away £20m of our own taxpayers’ money to foreign investors by sacrificing the CIL contribution that such a large development should usually bring to the benefit of the wider district.”

David Skipp (LDem, Horsham Park), leader of the Lib Dem Group at HDC, said: “This is consistent with our position from the very beginning, and we will support the tabling of this motion.”

Examination hearings were held in November where planning inspector Geoff Salter scrutinised HDC’s local plan. In his initial report released just before Christmas he told HDC to up its housing target from 13,000 to at least 15,000 new homes up to 2031.

Main modifications to the plan were approved in March for consultation and the inspector is due to re-start the examination hearings on Friday July 3.

Berkeley Homes’ application for 594 homes west of Southwater was approved by HDC earlier this year, as was another application south of the village for 193 units.

But both Southwater Parish Council and Keep Southwater Green are arguing that the Hop Oast and Pollards Hill roundabouts are already at capacity.

They have requested the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Goverment ‘call-in’ both applications due to unresolved traffic issues.

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