LETTER: £75,300 bill for council tax payers

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Your letters

I am writing regarding your recent article ‘Third application for homes east of Manor Close in Henfield’ (South Downs edition, July 18) in my capacity as the applicant.

I should like to express my regret that we have had to submit three identical planning applications for development proposals that are entirely consistent with national planning policy and Horsham District Council’s development plan.

The appeal was utterly unnecessary. Had Horsham District Council firstly properly determined the original application in accordance with its own policies, and secondly approved the application submitted to obviate the need for a costly public inquiry after deciding that it would not contest our original appeal, this situation could have been avoided.

It has cost Horsham council tax payers £75,300 in costs awarded to us by the inspector because of the council’s unreasonable behaviour.

It is even more regrettable that we have had to submit a third application.

As the article correctly reports this is necessary due to the on-going delay in assessing an application made by some local residents for town or village green status of the site.

At the inquiry last September our solicitors and West Sussex County Council considered that the matter could be resolved within 18 months, however the process is taking longer. This is the single reason for the third application.

Hands off Henfield is mistaken in its assertion that our third application is evidence of a lack of demand for housing in Henfield.

There is an acute need for housing in Henfield and the district as a whole.

The inspector described the need for housing in Henfield as ‘demonstrable’.

This need has not gone away. The organisation is equally mistaken that it is our intention to ‘land bank until the economy improves’. There is huge demand for housing now.

It is in fact a small percentage of residents lobbying Horsham District Council to refuse this application for residential development (for which there is a demonstrable need), which already has planning permission and has been found by an independent inspector not to result in material harm.

It remains to be seen if there will have to be a second appeal ‘in the long running saga of a 102- home development in Henfield’ and what that could cost Horsham District Council.

RICHARD THOMAS

Partner, Welbeck Strategic Land LLP, 13 Woodstock Street London W1C 2AG