LETTER: Greater degree of certainty

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I write in response to Claire Vickers’ recent letter. Yet more scaremongering with misleading, inaccurate and unsubstantiated statements from Cllr Claire Vickers, HDC’s Cabinet Member for Living and Working Communities, following the vote to approve the proposed Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF) for representations.

The alternative proposal at the council meeting was not to defer the decision until a decision on a second runway at Gatwick is made. The proposal was to remove the North Horsham strategic site from the HDPF until a decision is made on Gatwick in 2015, whilst ensuring that sufficient alternative sites were available to meet the immediate five year land supply requirement.

The SHLAA document, also before the council for approval, clearly showed that there is a five year land supply of deliverable development sites to 2021, without any contribution from North Horsham, giving HDC two years to identify alternative sites to replace the North Horsham housing numbers.

With regard to the statements on the consequences of deferring I would make the following observations.

The vote to approve the HDPF did not remove the threat of developers using the lack of five year land supply to build a further 3,600 houses. The threat remains until the HDPF is found sound by the Planning Inspectorate, which is at least a year away, even with the council’s submission going smoothly.

However, even if developers do come forward with planning applications they are still required to meet the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). They can’t just build wherever they like. Their sites must be sustainable with adequate infrastructure to meet the needs of the development, and the local economy, whilst ensuring that on balance the benefits of such development outweigh any harm to existing communities and the environment.

The proposal put before council would not have resulted in the loss of all Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) monies as the amendments to the HDPF could have been completed within a month with adequate resource applied.

In fact, viability issues with North Horsham, due to the massive infrastructure costs, have resulted in the CIL charged on this site being less than elsewhere across the District. So in fact the alternative proposal would provide greater CIL contributions.

Rather than severely weakening the development of Neighbourhood Plans, the proposal gave them greater scope to develop coherent, economic, housing and community infrastructure plans for their communities through CIL contributions. Instead of having future economic development in the District concentrated solely on North Horsham.

The proposal put forward would still have allowed us to have control of development with a greater degree of certainty. However, as we have experienced in the past, if developers fail to build at a rate that meets the housing numbers in the HDPF, we will once again fall foul of the five year land supply requirement.

Rather than being extremely damaging, as claimed by Cllr Claire Vickers, the proposal would have given the council the flexibility to react to the Gatwick decision in the future without being encumbered by a decision taken before the outcome on Gatwick is known.

MALCOM CURNOCK

(LDem) Horsham district councillor for Broadbridge Heath, North Street, Horsham