Letter: Appeal to the PM

IT APPEARS that Horsham District Council is totally set on accepting the Berkeley’s development proposals in Southwater despite all the very good reasons against it.

In particular it intends to totally ignore the stated wishes of the community and its parish council.

We are not alone in meeting total intransigence at HDC - your columns are full of similar examples every week. We feel we have no other course open to us but to appeal directly to Prime Minister David Cameron who has recently spoken so specifically and publicly on this issue on national TV.

We have sent an open letter to him and provide the text of it for your readers’ information. I sincerely hope that common sense can yet prevail.

Dear Mr Cameron

Last month I listened to your interview with John Craven on ‘Countryfile’. You clearly said that you understood, and would defend the right of local communities to say that they did not want huge development to despoil their villages and environment.

You went further and said that they had a right to refuse large development but should be prepared to accept more reasonable numbers that could be incorporated into the community without fundamentally altering their valued natural and architectural heritage.

In the village of Southwater, south of Horsham and within Mr Maude`s constituency, we are faced with exactly the situation you discussed with Mr Craven.

We have accepted upward of 100 new houses within the village in the last six months because we felt these can be absorbed. However a developer who has a close relationship with the district council has put in an application to build another 530 houses upon productive tenanted farmland.

There have, over the last two years, been several attempts to ‘sell’ the idea to the community. Keep Southwater Green obtained more than 4,000 signatures against such large scale development in 2010 and in 2011 Horsham District Council`s own consultation process produced a massive 93 per cent vote against the development.

Despite this clearly stated objection from the community AND its parish council, Horsham District Council is recommending to its planning committee that it accepts the development application.

There are many detailed reasons why this development is unsustainable BUT the crux of the situation is exactly that which you discussed with Mr Craven: the imposition upon a community, against its will, of a huge development which will change the whole nature of the area.

We ask you to be as good as your word and to intervene on behalf a community that is facing a blinkered, inflexible and arrogant district council.

Dr IAN THWAITES

On behalf of Keep Southwater Green and the people of Southwater

Marlhurst, Southwater