LETTER: Naïve to ignore development plan

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From the correspondence in last week’s County Times it seems that the Horsham Society’s position concerning Liberty’s proposed development has been misunderstood.

The Society has not given up its objection to development north of the A264, nor have we thrown our lot in with Liberty.

When the proposal to build north of the northern bypass was first mooted we objected strongly as we believed it to be wrong in principle. It would erode the precious Horsham – Crawley strategic gap and be an orphan development detached from the rest of the town.

HDC however made it the main strategic housing site in the Horsham District Planning Framework. It suited them to bundle as many houses as possible in the extreme north of the District and thereby avoid so much development in Southwater and the south.

At the examination in public we argued that the HDPF was unsound and that the North Horsham site in particular should be rejected. Unfortunately the Planning Inspector, whilst initially ruling the plan unsound in terms of overall housing numbers, said “nothing has convinced me that the proposed allocation [at North Horsham] is not sound”. When the Inspector re-opens his examination on 3 July we will continue to argue that the Council’s plan is unsound in the hope that he will reject it, thus providing an opportunity for the whole question to be re-opened. But even if there was an opportunity for further thought, given the make up of the Council it would be naïve to ignore the likelihood that eventually there will be development in one form or another north of the A264.

Meanwhile, with the Inspector’s nod of approval to spur them on, Liberty has been pressing ahead with its plans and we expect a planning application to be lodged before the examination re-opens. Liberty opened a ‘shop’ in Bishopric for a public consultation and invited stakeholder groups to meet with them to discuss their plans.

Knowing that it is much more difficult to get changes made to plans once they have been lodged with the Council, we accepted Liberty’s invitation to meet.

We said again that we oppose this development and that we see the A264 as a major barrier to effective communication with the existing built-up area of Horsham. However, we believe that talking to Liberty at this stage gives us a chance of doing the best we can for both the new residents there and for Horsham as a whole.

If at the end of the day this development does go ahead we want it to be a good as it can be.

John Steele

Vice President

Old Denne Gardens, Horsham

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