LETTER: ‘Plan-led’ scheme, or ‘developer-led’?

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Remember how Claire Vickers et al have been banging on about how the proposed North Horsham Development was ‘plan-led’ and certainly not ‘developer-led’?

Well, at the North Horsham Parish meeting last week a fellow local resident told me he had visited the exhibition in Swan Walk and spoke to Claire Vickers and Helena Croft.

He asked them the question “Who approached who first…. did Horsham District Council contact Liberty initially, or was it vice versa?” It’s a question I’m sure lots of people would like answered.

Councillors Vickers and Croft prevaricated, of course, but when pressed for an answer admitted that Liberty made the first approach, saying words to the effect that they (Liberty) thought that parcel of land just to the north of the A264 looked ripe and ideal for development. I bet they did! A nice area of greenfield land, easy to concrete over and with none of the profit-endangering problems of building on brownfield sites.

Now, HDC (and particularly Claire Vickers) have always maintained this plan for developing north of Horsham was ‘plan-led’ and not ‘developer-led’. Well, if Liberty’s initial approach doesn’t lead one to the conclusion that this whole thing is ‘developer-led’, I’m a Dutchman!

SHEILA WHITE

Dorking Road, Warnham

Response from Claire Vickers:

The author of this letter reports second hand a conversation I am supposed to have had with a visitor to the exhibition, accusing me of saying words to the effect that Liberty thought that the land looked ripe and ideal for development. I do not recall this particular conversation and I would certainly never use such provocative language.

The council began the preparation of the Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF) in 2009, when it carried out a consultation on a number of possible large scale development locations (strategic sites). This included two separate areas of land to the north of Horsham town. It was not until after this consultation was held that the promoter of the Land North of Horsham began to pursue their interest in the site.

The council has considered the suitability, availability and achievability of over 300 possible development locations through a Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), which has identified whether sites could be delivered particularly in the short to medium term. In addition the impact of the development of a range of possible strategic development locations have been tested through a process known as a sustainability appraisal which looks at the social, economic and environmental impacts of development of a range of sites.

I am always happy to answer questions from members of the public.