LETTER: Increasing power held by the state

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From recent letters, it should be clear that the Coalition has reneged on its 2011 (Localism) promise, to abolish ‘Labour’s Regional Strategies, putting elected local councillors back in charge, accountable to local people via the ballot box’.

In the event, HDC has been intimidated into adopting an unattainable 20 year target of 650 houses pa, for fear that its Local Plan might otherwise be rejected, even though a plan with impossible targets offers limited protection. That is not Localism, that is coercion bordering on blackmail.

Unfortunately HDC’s leader omitted to mention this Catch 22 position, in his column , saying ‘we are obliged to use the Government’s Rulebook’ (ie the NPPF) – apparently without a fight. He seems to have simply rolled over.

However, it is clear that the impossible (650pa) demand has put pressure on ‘soft options’, such as North Horsham, whilst the un-elected Planning Inspector continues to permit speculative applications, often against the Local Authority’s judgement.

We all know that Local Authorities cannot make developers build to meet an arbitrary unattainable target and so, will the leader please explain in his next column how he confronted this inequity with the Planning Minister. He should tell us what persuasive arguments he deployed and what was the Minister’s response.

Alternatively, if he believes that the 20 year target is attainable in practice, then can he please put his evidence into the public arena, assuming of course that he has nothing to hide?

P M Rands

Arun Road, Billingshurst