I was one of many local residents who witnessed Horsham district councillors debate the draft Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF) – Preferred Strategy Consultation document on July 25.
There we learnt that Horsham District Council (HDC) wants 11,500 new houses to be built in the period to 2031 in the questionable belief that the district’s economy can be made to grow by large-scale house-building - and in the hope that this huge target, underpinned by the draft HDPF’s explicit emphasis on promoting significant economic growth, will be acceptable to the Planning Inspectorate.
Whether or not this target would be achievable was not considered, which was surprising, given that the equally excessive target set by the revoked South East Plan has proved to be unachievable, which is why HDC is losing appeals.
It also came to light that the preparation of the document had been rushed (why?), that infrastructure requirements have yet to be determined and costed whilst the implications for essential services of a hugely increased population, has not been assessed. Neither is there a new hospital in prospect.
North Horsham, where 2,500 new houses and an extensive business park are proposed, was promoted by leading councillors as the future growth engine for Horsham District, which it was explained would provide ‘high quality well paid jobs’ for Horsham’s young people on their ‘doorstep’, and obviate the need for residents to work outside of the district.
It was envisaged that ‘young people’ employed at the business park would reside in the adjoining residential development.
This concept is flawed because HDC can neither compel businesses to confine their recruitment to Horsham’s ‘young people’, nor developers the sale of new houses to same.
Added to which a new railway station at North Horsham, if sufficient funds could be found to pay for it, would facilitate commuting to London and other locations outside of the district. North Horsham would become another dormitory settlement.
Communities and residents need to be aware of HDC’s intent and the implications for the district’s future – and make their views known to the council through the forthcoming public consultation.
Dr R.F. SMITH
For Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Sussex – Horsham District, Bashurst Copse, Itchingfield