LETTER: Important issues for new council

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Many residents are signing a petition to tell the Chief Inspector and the new Horsham District Council that what has gone before in the process of developing a Local Plan (housing and economic development) is seriously flawed.

The whole process should be halted by the new council for a complete rethink. There is an e-petition on www.savingnorthhorsham.co.uk. It is so easy to use.

There are so many issues that are suspect because information has not been put in the public arena.

For instance why did the Inspector last autumn not insist before he came that West Sussex County Council made it clear what the implications of a secondary school north of the A264 will be for the existing catchment areas?

Parents who have bought houses or rent at a very considerable cost assumed that their children would be eligible to go to Millais or Forest – both schools have a long established high reputation.

Parents have a right to know the catchment of a North Horsham secondary school - Rusper, North Horsham and Bewbush.

Another one is Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The American developer Liberty has persuaded councillors that because of the difficulties of developing the green field site north of the A264 they will be excused the CIL charge – it will be £zero.

Other developments within the District incur a charge of £125 per sq metre. We calculate this means depriving residents of over £20million which should be used for infrastructure improvements elsewhere in the District for the benefit of the whole community.

At the inspection it was made clear that alternative sites do not have such development problems – so why go to North Horsham?

The council came up with the untested proposal after the inspection to use the main part of the Novartis site – not for a mix of affordable, social and other housing – but to make it a campus of Brighton University.

This was a new idea but it formed a large part of the Main Modifications to the Local Plan (following the Inspection) and was put before council on March 18th.

The university has now changed its mind. I understand from HDC chief executive Mr Crowley that he was told on May 8th. Doesn’t that withdrawal of the university offer make the report to the Inspector of Main Modifications – flawed?

Is it any wonder that residents are angry at what the old council did and want to sign the petition? There is too much that is wrong and suspect with the way things were done up to the election – and thank you for exposing so much of this through your columns.

We have a new council now – and we hope members will stop this headlong rush, pause, change the culture of the council so we can trust it and think carefully about what they are doing and get answers to all these issues and many more before going on.

Dr GEOFFREY RICHARDSON

Tennyson Close, Horsham

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