LETTER: Objections must follow council rule

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It is commendable that so many residents have written to the West Sussex County Times and submitted objections on the Horsham District Council’s Planning website about Policy 14 Preferred strategy (under consultation) – for several thousand new houses and another industrial estate in north Horsham.

However, County Times readers and correspondents need to be aware that letters printed in the press and sent to councillors won’t be included as responses to Horsham District Council’s consultation.

They must be sent to Horsham District Council with a request that they be included on the website as an objection to Policy 14.

The council is required to consult and is under pressure from central Government to build more homes.

Horsham was one of six councils in danger of having its role approving developments removed because of apparent failure to meet Government targets.

There is an air of desperation about this ‘one solution’ only strategy (Policy 14) and maybe it is part of the council’s plan to make it difficult for residents to know what is happening.

The preferred strategy was published on 16th August when many local residents would be on holiday (a well-used tactic), the actual document is very bulky, the detail is flimsy, the language is off-putting and for those who need a hardcopy it costs £20.

The political intrigue behind the sudden dropping of the plans for Southwater and Policy 14 appearing in North Horsham has yet to be fully told.

Claire Vickers, Horsham District Council’s cabinet member for living and working communities, is a councillor for Southwater and clearly has prime responsibility for what is happening.

In North Horsham wards at least two councillors are supporting Policy 14, several are against and another is currently sitting on the fence. Concerned residents across Horsham will need to know where their own councillors stand on an issue that has created so much opposition already.

They should let their councillors know now how they feel and what support they will give them in the next local elections if they approve this proposal.

The reputation of politicians has never been lower and those councillors breaking the promises given in 1980 about the ‘red line’ of the A264 should know that there will be political consequences which they need to fully understand at the outset. It is so easy to email a councillor or even better write a letter – details below.

The council will say that Policy 14 is a response to pressure from central Government. Council is being forced into this decision to locate north of the A264. There are no alternatives. The council will say that even if the project gets to planning stage and is then rejected by councillors because of public pressure, an inspector is quite likely to overturn the decision and order it to go ahead.

So Horsham residents (not just those in northern wards) who feel strongly that there is no need for such an additional huge single housing (and industrial) development, who are concerned at pressure on already overtaxed services/amenities and who see Policy 14 as having a massive negative impact on the already creaking transport system – need to act now.

There are two ways for residents to object to Policy 14. Use the web or write a letter. The district council’s web page (http://horsham.limehouse.co.uk/portal/planning/hdpf_1/hdpfps) may seem complicated to some but RAGE (www.rage.uk.com) and the office at North Horsham Parish Council (Millennium Building,Roffey) will help those who find computers difficult. An email (strategic.planning@horsham) or a good old fashioned letter to the District Council North Street, RH12 1RL are just as acceptable.

A good old fashioned letter to the district council (North Street, RH12 1RL) is just as acceptable. It need not be a long letter but it must give your name and address, state that you object to the council’s housing development proposals north of the A264 (Policy 14) and most importantly that your letter / email should be included on the website objecting to Policy 14.

Ideally, all objections should address the evidence or lack of evidence for 1. need, 2. transport impact, 3. amenity/environmental/services impact.

If emails have been sent without name and full address they will be rejected – please re-send.

A thousand responses to the council’s proposals on this website will be judged ‘significant’ – it is a long way from that currently.

The aim must be to create such a fuss that these badly thought out proposals are dropped and the council’s planning department goes back to the drawing board with the brief to look at and provide up-to-date data for all options.

The one big site idea may be very lucrative for the developers and landowners but clearly from the letters in the press and the packed North Horsham Parish Council meeting (9th September) is not acceptable to many of Horsham’s rate payers.

Dr GEOFFREY RICHARDSON

Tennyson Close, Horsham