I refer to last week’s banner headline “Ghetto in heart of town”. My dictionary defines ghetto as ‘an area of a city where many people of the same race or background live, separately from the rest of the population. Ghettos are often crowded with bad living conditions’.
Saxon Weald’s proposal and the Winterton Court site was to provide high quality flats and houses at a high density in order to help meet the needs of the hundreds of people on the council’s waiting list who are either poorly housed or do not have a home of their own. They do not have enough money to pay the market rate in Horsham’s too expensive private rental or house purchase market. Rents in Horsham are now greater than in some parts of London.
There are very few available sites in Saxon Weald’s or the council’s ownership – especially so close to the town centre and railway station. Proposals for the Winterton Court site have been worked on for months between Saxon Weald and the council. They meet all the council’s planning criteria and – a point missed in last week’s article – they were recommended for approval by Planning Officers. We intended to create homes for local working people paying an affordable rent. These people will now have to continue waiting.
However, my purpose in writing is not to complain about the refusal of planning permission. We will discuss the future of the site with the council and decide the next steps. Rather, I would ask people to moderate their language and to consider the needs of people without adequate housing.
These are not “people of the same race or background”. People on the council’s waiting list come from a range of backgrounds and circumstances. What unites them is that they are poorly housed.
If these homes had been described as up market homes for sale to young professionals, would people still have described them as a “ghetto”?
Saxon Weald, Worthing Road, Horsham