LETTER: Mad merry-go round of building

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Whether it is ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’, we are this year seeing the terrible consequences of major storms, excessive rainfall, the inadequacy of flood defences and irresponsible building on unsuitable land. The extension of hard surfaces creates uncontrolled run-off in catchment basins and flood plains. We don’t need to look any further than the Arun to see the consequences.

South Downs MP Nick Herbert’s concerns (13.02.14) calls for Eric Pickles (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) to allow local authorities to set appropriate housing targets that do not worsen flooding.

The drive for a huge increase in housing appears to have become a mad merry-go round. Councils pressured to build more and more houses go for the easy option of ‘strategic development’ on green sites – handing over to developers like Liberty.

Unelected inspectors take a look at the proposed strategy send the council away to start again – usually because the housing numbers are too low and the council is not fulfilling its duty to co-operate with other councils looking at geographical areas rather than areas within council borders (see Brighton link below).

So it is a top-down process. The council, fearful if it doesn’t get its Plan approved, caves in to the inspector to avoid developers getting approval from the inspector to build wherever they have land.

The developers become the main drivers building houses local people don’t want on land that will increase the surface flood liability and extend into ‘green belt’. Our elected councillors don’t appear to have the courage to stand up to central government and its unelected inspectors.

I was so pleased to see the former leader of West Sussex County Council (WSCC), Graham Forshaw’s intervention, ‘Fight to keep the green lungs open’ (13.02.14) not only to stop creeping urbanisation but also to enable the green lands and wooded areas to reduce run- off, soak up excess moisture and lessen the risk of flooding.

District councillor Jim Rae (Holbrook East) was elected to WSCC in 2011 to represent Roffey. He should take a leaf out of the former leader’s book regarding preserving our ‘green belt’ rather than blindly following his current leader at HDC, councillor Ray Dawe.

It is time we the community woke up to what is happening and not least the younger generation because they will have to live with the consequence of this rapidly developing uncontrolled wrecking of our environment.

W. CHAPMAN

Kestrel Close, Horsham