LETTER: Housing targets are unattainable

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As Roger Smith pointed out (letters last week) HDC can’t force developers to build 800 houses pa.

But when they don’t, the Planning Inspector is likely to permit more speculative development, often on green field land.

Sadly the PI raised HDC’s 20 year target to 800 dwellings per annum (dpa), which is a massive 77 per cent increase, above the 453dpa average in the eight years before the recession - when GDP growth was around three per cent pa.

That increase is clearly not viable based on historic data, on trends in numbers per household, in population projections or in market supply and demand, but the PI has not responded to questions in that context.

But he considers HDC’s plan for 8,890 new jobs to 2031, to be achievable, when that can only be so if employers want to locate or expand, in Horsham - where we have seen large companies leaving or down sizing.

Indeed, there is no evidence that the North Horsham Business Park will be needed, other than for warehousing and distribution, that it will generate a need for more than a few hundred jobs, or that salary levels will be sufficient to allow employees to purchase local properties.

The PI demanded that allowance be made for people working in towns such as Crawley, neglecting that house price/salary ratios are lower there (<9 compared with HD >13) and that workers would more likely commute from Crawley to Horsham - than the other way around.

HDC’s failure to apply such logic, or to propose an appropriate market adjustment to their target, probably left the door open for the PI to raise it to an unrealistic 800 dpa - no doubt to the delight of developers.

So the unattainable target leaves developers in the driving seat, while emasculating HDC, opening the door to more distorted development and infrastructure overloading. The people have been let down.

Local Plans were supposed to meet the aspirations of communities, but this outcome rides roughshod over that and over ‘Localism’. Not bad value from a Planning Inspectorate that costs us over £40 million pa!

Perhaps MPs could let us know why they did not support residents at the Inspector’s hearing and what they propose to do now, to put things right.

ROGER ARTHUR

Melrose Place, Storrington

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