LETTER: Order is open door for developers

Your letters
Your letters

According to the Press Statement issued by the Horsham District Council’s Communications Manager, although Cllr Vickers (Cabinet Member for Planning and Development) is ‘disappointed’ that the Planning Inspector, Mr Geoff Salter, has increased the house-building target for the District to 800 houses per year, his ‘note’ (in which he sets out his instructions to the Council) ‘does give us some certainty for the foreseeable future’.

This terse Press Statement is clearly an attempt at shaping the public’s perception by glossing over the unfortunate reality and likely consequences for the District of Mr Salter’s directive to the Council, and the Council’s unwillingness either to question or challenge it.

‘Some certainty for the foreseeable future’ includes the certainty that following the adoption of the Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF), and notwithstanding the allocation of sites with the capacity to meet Mr Salter’s imposed and excessive target, developers will declare that the District does not have a demonstrable five year housing land supply – and will seek more permissions at Appeal to build on unallocated sites.

Note that immediately the HDPF is adopted, the five year housing land supply figure will be inflated by the addition to it of the shortfall in houses built since 2011 against the new and retrospective target of 800 houses per year. Accordingly, a five year requirement of around 5,000 houses seems likely.

Of concern, too, is Mr Salter’s instruction to the Council that it review the HDPF within three years of the Framework’s adoption, with, according to the Press Statement, ‘a view to identifying extra numbers’. This is an open door for developers to press for yet more houses to be added to the excessive target – and the inclusion of additional sites.

Countryside adjoining villages throughout Horsham District will continue to be at risk with consequent uncertainty for communities.

Dr ROGER F. SMITH

For Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) Sussex (Horsham District), Bashurst Copse, Itchingfield

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