Billingshurst - ‘increasingly frustrated’

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FOLLOWING Horsham District Council’s (HDC’s) decision to review the adopted Core Strategy, Billingshurst Parish Council has actively participated in each and every consultation on development within the district.

It sought the opinion of its electorate in 2008 through the medium of the Parish Plan and has unremittingly upheld the mandate it received from the community to oppose further development in the parish, while doing everything possible to ensure that Billingshurst has a sustainable future.

The parish council has become increasingly frustrated by the way HDC in its public declarations, since it commenced consultation on the Core Strategy Review in late 2009, persists in the inclusion of Billingshurst as a target for further development, despite the overwhelming weight of objection from residents of the parish.

There has been a great deal of publicity about the Government’s intention to abolish Regional Spatial Strategies, including the South-East Plan, which will affect us and to hand power back locally.

Unfortunately, there has been little comment about the Government’s insistence that local planning authorities comply with paragraphs 69-71 of Planning Policy Statements 3: Housing. This requires local planning authorities to maintain a five year housing land supply but HDC has been unable to do that.

It would seem that HDC ignored the warning from developers in 2006, which was given at the public examination of the Core Strategy, that HDC should not concentrate all its development West of Horsham and West of Crawley because house completions at those sites might not come forward when promised. The government inspector subsequently found the Core Strategy to be sound and it became legally binding.

However, because these developments have not yet been started, we have a housing land supply shortfall. This prompted HDC to consult on a short-term policy known as an Interim Statement to address the deficiency. This consultation focused on strategic site allocations for Billingshurst and Southwater with the intention of remedying a district-wide house land supply shortfall.

The process has been plagued by delays and we now await a recommendation from the cabinet as to whether the district council should proceed with the short-term Interim Statement that includes the possibility of 500 houses being built in both Billingshurst and Southwater.

Alternatively, HDC could scrap the last 18 months’ work and revert back to preparation of the district-wide Preferred Strategy. The cabinet meets on Thursday July 21. Whatever decision is made, the communities within Horsham district, particularly Billingshurst and Southwater, face in the short term, planning applications being granted on appeal without the necessary infrastructure, that would have been negotiated under HDC’s previous Plan, Monitor and Manage planning policy.

Until this parish council is presented with:

1. A convincing argument that addresses all the parish council’s original objections to the further expansion of Billingshust.

2. A realistic demonstration of the ability of large-scale housing development in Billingshurst to stimulate significant economic growth in the district as a whole.

3. Evidence of a commitment by HDC to stimulate development in the Areas of Opportunity East of both Horsham and Crawley.

4. Details of a credible (fully-funded) investment programme necessary to enable the development to be occupied and its impact on local transportation, utility and community infrastructure to be mitigated.

5. Details of the funding available for additional community infrastructure through the New Homes Bonus and Community Infrastructure Levy.

the parish council will continue to resist the further expansion of Billingshurst.

This is your last opportunity to contact your district councillors and make your views known to them before HDC makes a major decision on the future shape of Horsham district. The parish council urges each and every parishioner to make sure that our elected representatives are in no doubt whatsoever about all of our concerns.

BEVERLEY BELL

Parish clerk, on behalf of Billingshurst Parish Council

Roman Way, Billingshurst