LETTER: Alternatives to be considered

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On reading the many letters you have received of late and noting that only a few replies appear on the HDC website through their District Planning Framework draft Preferred Strategy Portal, I thought it sensible to copy to you the essence of what I said in my recent reply to HDC, via their website, in the hope that it will prompt others to do the same

Below is my contribution...

Question 1 House Numbers

If a further 4,000 houses need to be built in the next 20 years on top of the 7,000, which are in the pipeline then before we start to concrete over our green belt, surely it makes sense to ensure all the available brown and infill sites within our town and village built-up area boundaries (BUAB) have been developed.

Whilst this has been done in Mannings Heath I am not convinced it has for Horsham Town.

There seems to be several brown field sites and empty offices that would be suitable for starter homes and sheltered accommodation in the town.

We need to understand if this potential source of new homes was factored in and if it was, what contribution it made to the 7,000 that are in the pipeline.

Question 2 House Types

Several residents have commented on the traffic flows that a large development will bring (in respect to the North Horsham this relates mainly to the A264 at rush hour).

I presume HDC have mitigated against this, by designing a mixed development of houses for workers and retired people.

Can you please advise what the plans say in this respect and what housing mix is proposed for large-scale developments together with the definitions of social and affordable housing.

B. Need for a railway Station

Whilst I can understand the economies of scale that suggest it is better to build one new large neighbourhood just outside the BUAB that are close to good existing infrastructure, rather than many smaller developments outside the BUAB of many rural villages, I must ask, in the case of the proposal for such a Neighbourhood north of the North Horsham A264 Bypass the following:

Question 3 Need for a new Railway Station – Could Littlehaven be modified to cope

What is the justification for spending some £10million or so on a new Parkway Railway station near Moorhead roundabout that will be only marginally nearer to the new Neighbourhood than the existing Littlehaven Station, which I understand may have the platform extended, at no cost to HDC, to accommodate at least eight-coach-long trains?

Question 4 (Strategy ref Chapter 10 .4)- Cycle Route

Would it not be more cost effective to use, say, some of the money saved by not building the Parkway Station, to construct a dedicated pedestrian /two-way cycle route along the south perimeter of the new Neighbourhood complete with a spur via an underpass across the A264 along the West Side of Rusper Road, so that the two-way cycle lane can be extended to an enlarged cycle park and car park for disabled drivers and electric vehicles at Littlehaven Station.

A pedestrian bridge could also be considered on rail land nearer to the platform, allowing rail customers to avoid mixing with vehicles at the level crossing gates

Question 5 Provision of Primary School places

We are told that in two years’ time there will be a shortage of primary school spaces in the South East, followed a few years later with a shortage of places in the secondary schools.

Is there not, therefore an immediate need for more nursery and primary schools as well as more secondary school to meet the surge in demand that we are told will be on us in two years?

Do HDC see this as a significant factor and if so what are their proposals to solve the nursery and primary school issues when building any large development like that proposed for North Horsham?

Idea 1. Suggested Strategy for the Business Park for any large- scale developments (Strategy ref Chapter 5.3/5.5)

As I could find little detail on what HDC are proposing in the case of the North Horsham site could I suggest the following:

We need to bring sustainable businesses to Horsham that will provide employment for Horsham residents, we do not need large warehouse units or DIY stores that provide just a few low skilled jobs, little training and many lorries to pollute the area.

A solution could be to build flexible terraced-house-width units with ground-floor knock-through unit interlinks on two levels that can accommodate not only a work area on the ground floor but an office or flat accommodation on the first floor.

These can be rented out with a graded discounted Business Council Tax rate (funded in the case of the North Horsham site) from the savings of not building Parkway Railway Station, to new ‘start up’ businesses, with more discount being offered to businesses that train local youngsters in a skill and then employ them for say three years.

Such units could be linked together as the businesses grow or even be converted back to domestic starter flats if they become surplus to requirement.

Idea 2. Green belt between Moorhead Roundabout and Faygate.

Like many others I am concerned that the North Horsham proposal will erode this strategic gap.

The site at Kilnwood near Faygate is a reminder to us that the gap is being eroded at this moment.

Could a solution be to reduce the house build target a little to allow the Eastern boundary of the proposed development into Moorhead roundabout to be tapered in a little further to the west of where the bypass section of the A264 meets Moorhead Roundabout.

This may mean the rural parishes will have to accommodate a few more houses but at present their exposure can only be about two per year per rural parish at least for the next 10 years, where after the house build target may have to be increased if a second runway at Gatwick is built.

Other Issues

Several residents have asked for a SWOT analysis to be provided for all the other major sites examined by HDC before they chose North Horsham. For my part I would welcome this for the Ifield site, which seems to be as equally strong as North Horsham.

The biggest issue of all is…

HDC need to publish a high level interim local plan giving details of house numbers for each parish THIS YEAR and not wait until next summer to publish the complete plan.

My reasoning for saying this is

1. Nick Boles said in response to my recent letter said that his planning inspectors WILL take note of EMERGING plans like council and neighbourhood local plans.

This being so, HDC need, as part of their strategy, to publish an INTERIM plan containing house numbers and where they are to be built to enable the Government Planning Inspectorate to use as a reference when considering planning appeals.

2. Many parishes are now working on their Neighbourhood Plans and require this detail and the detail of the value of the square metre floor rate that will be used in the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), to be able to see, not only where houses can be accommodated, but what infrastructure projects can be delivered from the flow of money that will come to them when HDC apply the CIL, on all new dwellings built in their parish, (with the exception of Social Housing I am told).

3. To minimise the window of opportunity developers currently have to concrete over the green fields outside the Built Up Area Boundaries (BUABs) of our town and villages.

Chris Beer

Swallowfield Close , Mannings Heath