LETTER: Clawback from rising prices

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In 2010, at the time that outline planning approval was granted for the West of Horsham development, a three bedroom semi- detached home in Horsham was valued at £290 000, six years later similar properties can be bought for between £376,000 and £400,000.

This indicates that house prices in Horsham have increased by more than 30 per cent. Profits made by developers on the West Horsham site will therefore have increased by a similar figure during the same period.

Horsham Labour Party opposed the West of Horsham development because we believed that it should have delivered at least 50 per cent affordable housing on the site. This would have provided local residents as well as newcomers the opportunity of securing a home within our town.

Horsham District Council’s failure to press for the delivery of that level of affordable housing or at the very least the 40 per cent figure stated in its own core housing strategy, led Horsham Labour Party to write to the Government requesting a review of Horsham council’s response to the application.

As a result of our intervention the council decided to reconsider the West of Horsham application. The outcome was the negotiation of a clawback clause which enables Horsham District Council to obtain additional monies in line with the profits gained from increases in house prices over the period of the development.

It is unclear therefore why five years later and following a sustained period of spiralling house prices that the council has not seen a single penny of additional money from the developers.

It is also unclear why it has been left to local resident, Paul Kornycky, as reported in the County Times on May 19th (‘Secrecy on one-sided deal with developers needs serious review’) to pursue the failings of the council as a result of the initial undervaluing of the development.

What have our elected representatives been doing about this all this time? Surely the residents of Horsham District are due an explanation.

It must now be the right moment for members of Horsham District Council to act in the best interests of local residents and demand, as a matter of urgency, a meeting with the developers to gain reassurances that the money owed to Horsham District Council will be forthcoming.

If the agreement negotiated with the developers is so flimsy as to allow them to avoid paying additional monies then the council clearly failed to deliver the benefits that should have been achieved for the residents of Horsham.

It is time for Horsham council to demonstrate that they are acting on behalf of the residents who elected them rather than on behalf of the developers who continue to make massive profits from the approvals granted by the planning committees.

DAVID HIDE

Chair, Horsham Labour Party, Clarence Road, Horsham

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