LETTER: North Horsham is political decision

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Richard Symonds of the Ifield Society asked whether the Horsham Society would have been as concerned if Horsham District Council had chosen the west of Ifield instead of North Horsham as the site for 2,500 new homes. In truth probably not, but that misses the point.

Large strategic sites bolted on to existing towns and villages are not the right approach. The Horsham Society has been saying for a very long time that if we must build large numbers of new homes then the only sensible approach is a new town.

This could be built out gradually over a number of years with the necessary infrastructure paid for by the developers. Instead of threatening the identity of existing communities a wholly new one could be created.

A new town is still the right answer but the council’s political leadership is dragging its heels and hiding behind the unwillingness of Mid Sussex to discuss it.

Mid Sussex has a duty to co-operate with neighbouring authorities and HDC should be mounting a legal challenge to make sure it does.

But it won’t because it suits the leadership to postpone anything that might result in greenfield development in the south of the district.

If, in the face of contrary evidence, HDC is still wedded to a single strategic site then its own assessment made only a year ago showed that Southwater was a better site than North Horsham; and if the mythical new hospital was discounted Billingshurst was also better.

On any plausible reading of the history and current proposals it is clear that the North Horsham site is the result of a political decision and that the planning case, such as it is, has been retrofitted.

JOHN STEELE

The Horsham Society, Old Denne Gardens, Horsham