LETTER: Lost opportunity for village funds

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Mr McLaughlin’s letter (‘Billingshurst - get your pride back’, 22.5.14, p43) shows the missed opportunity by the village’s three Horsham district councillors: Kate Rowbottom, Gordon Lindsay and Adam Breacher (who doesn’t even live in Billingshurst but rather in Storrington where leader Ray Dawe represents! www.horsham.gov.uk/council/members/2474.aspx)

Up until September 2012 it was HDC’s plan to build up to 1,500 homes in Billingshurst. Then in May 2013 Cllr Claire Vickers suddenly took over from Cllr Howard as the Cabinet Member for Planning and that existing and publicly known plan was dropped for 2,500 homes going in the strategic gap in North Horsham.

This was a site rejected in both the Core Strategy of 2009 and the 2011 Interim Statement.

Due to HDC’s ‘messing’ during his time they lost an appeal against 500 homes – the consequence was that Billingshurst lost out on valuable community money from the development (called CIL money).

HDC’s own consultants in a report entitled: ‘Horsham District Council Community Infrastructure Levy Viability Assessment, March 2014’ (www.horsham.gov.uk/environment/planning_policy/documents/CIL-ViabilityAssessment.pdf) states in appendix 3: ‘A third site ‘Land East of Billingshurst’ (circa 500 homes) was recently granted planning permission and will therefore not contribute towards CIL revenue, should the Council adopt CIL. This site has therefore been ignored for the purposes of this assessment.’

This means that the Billingshurst village community lost out on £125 per sqm for that land. That money (and more if another 1,000 homes under Cllr Ian Howard’s plan) could have been spent on improving Jengers Mead and turning that unpopular private car park over to public use.

And this is the same Billingshurst councillor Mrs Kate Rowbottom who proposed in February 2014 that the Deputy Cabinet Member for Planning (Brian O’Connell) replace Cllr Christian Mitchell as Chairman of the Council in an unprecedented act as punishment for defending his residents in Horsham against Cllr Vickers’ change of plan for tearing up a 30 year promise of protecting land the strategic gap between Horsham and Crawley.

CHRIS LEPPARD

Highdown Way, Horsham