At the Horsham District Council full council meeting, 24 June, Cllr Dawe advised his fellow councillors that it was the Government, not the council who set housing numbers, whilst Cllr Donnelly explained that the District was faced by a deluge of housing, which the Government not the council wanted and that the housing tap, which was controlled by the Government, was now open.
Cllr Circus advised that he would like a Government that actually wanted localism, not centralism masquerading as localism. None disputed their views.
Could it be that this denial of responsibility for what has and is being done to the District by developers and the Planning Inspectorate is a convenient-for-the-council strategy to justify seemingly passive acquiescence and unquestioning acceptance of the Inspectorate’s diktat?
Certainly, the council could, but won’t, challenge the Planning Inspectorate’s refusal to take into account the impact of the financial crisis on housing delivery when house sales fell and developers responded by reducing build-rates to levels below that required by the South East Plan (SEP). This has resulted in grossly inflated and unachievable five-year housing targets, in consequence of which communities have been ridden-over rough-shod by developers.
They could, but won’t negotiate with the Inspectorate a return to the Liverpool method of determining five-year housing-land supply, instead of the inequitable Sedgefield method. Inequitable because the Sedgefield method of calculating the District’s five-year requirement has added to an already inflated requirement, thereby putting the council in a much more vulnerable position when fighting appeals.
They could, but won’t, negotiate a change to the HDPF plan-period whereby the plan-period starts in the year that the plan is adopted, instead of retrospectively in 2011.
This matters because back-dating the start of the plan to 2011 means that the plan when adopted will be burdened from the outset with the shortfall in houses built, accumulated since 2011, against the Inspector’s new and increased target.
Moreover, they could have provided HDPF policies for the District’s countryside and natural environment that were consistent with NPPF policies instead of deliberately wording them so as to carry less weight than NPPF policies.
Councillors have collective responsibility for all of the above and much more besides. To deny that responsibility at a pivotal moment for the future of the District would be an appalling neglect of duty.
Dr ROGER F. SMITH
Bashurst Copse, Itchingfield
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