LETTER: Affordable homes should be priority

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Tory and Liberal councillors have claimed to be genuinely concerned about the lack of affordable homes in Horsham.

How is it then that we see yet another social housing development being rejected by the councillors on the planning committee? West Sussex County Times ‘ Ghetto in heart of town rejected.’ These are the same councillors that tell us that it is impossible to do anything but approve the massive private development that are springing up around our town.

It is of course acceptable to reject an application on the basis that it is too densely built and in response to neighbouring residents’ concerns about the impact on their quiet enjoyment of their homes. There is however something about the comments made by council, as quoted in the report in the County Times, that reflects a callous disregard, for the housing needs of local people. References to ghettos and social engineering are particularly unpleasant, those making them and supporting them should be particularly embarrassed by their remarks .

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of a ghetto is an area ‘ occupied by minority groups, segregated group or area.’ It is entirely inappropriate to attach this description to housing association developments in Horsham. Those that live in housing association homes are not marginalised groups that deserve to be patronised by local politicians. They are families that need a home that is appropriate to their needs but are unable to buy or rent one at the current private market rates. It might interest those councillors on the planning committee to know that it would probably describe a significant proportion of residents of Horsham, if they were seeking to buy at today’s prices.

The reason why we do not have more mixed tenure estates is the direct result of the councillors past and continuing failure to ensure that private developers meet their obligation under 106 agreements.

This has not only resulted in a severe shortage of affordable housing, but is a form of social engineering that is encouraged by the councillors.

They seem happy to see thousands of executive homes built but less willing to actively encourage the development of homes suitable for local people on low or median incomes.

Some of the other comments made by councillors keen to pile on reasons to reject this development are ludicrous. They seem to flag up a determination to ensure that much needed affordable family homes are not built on this site. To say that the local schools will come under pressure from 69 homes, when thousands have been approved without any consideration of infrastructure, is ridiculous.

It may be a moot point that this development does not suit the Winterton court site, but claims that the design is ugly and prison like when, from the artists impression, there is little difference between these flats and the many private schemes dotted around Horsham, seem totally unreasonable .

As was correctly pointed out, affordable housing is needed in Horsham now. Horsham Council should therefore address its responsibility to local people by ensuring that Saxon Weald and other housing associations are properly supported to deliver the housing we need.

It could start by making the delivery of appropriately designed and sited affordable housing a priority in the local plan. If councillors want more mix tenure sites they should ensure that developers deliver with regard to need and not just with regard to their profit line. Saxon Weald is working hard to deliver on behalf of the hundreds of families who are on Horsham council’s waiting list. When we have a housing crisis as grave as the one we are experiencing in Horsham our political representatives should surely be more committed to helping them do so

Carol Hayton

Labour candidate for Horsham Park at Horsham District Council

Clarence Road, Horsham