LETTER: Prime Minister’s view of planning

Your letters
Your letters

According to a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Saturday 4 July, ‘The Government believes that wherever possible, planning decisions should be made by local people’, and ‘will focus’ on ‘what people care about – local roads, schools and homes that meet their needs. That means giving local people more of a say on where new homes go and what they look like’.

By chance, this press release was issued the day after the ‘HDPF – Resumed Hearings’, held by Planning Inspector, Mr G. Salter.

At the hearings and in stark contrast to the Prime Minister’s Office press release, the views of local people counted for very little.

Instead, developers seeking to overturn the Inspector’s Initial Findings and secure a huge increase on the 15,000/16,000 new houses previously allocated to the District by Mr Salter, were allowed by him to dominate the proceedings.

Apparently, he looked to them for advice and apparently, too, neither he nor they wanted to devote more than one day to the hearings.

Consequently, those present who wanted to question and challenge statements made and arguments put forward by developers, though permitted to speak, were treated in a cursory and sometimes dismissive manner, particularly during the afternoon session when the proceedings were rushed.

Moreover, infrastructure issues, though vital for communities, were not on the Inspector’s agenda.

Mr Salter, as he explained at the hearings, is empowered to determine the HDPF by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government - The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP.

Regrettably, therefore, it would appear that the statement in the press release quoted above does not reflect the views of Mr Clark.

At the close of the hearings, Mr Salter advised that he would go home and write and complete his report before he retired from the Inspectorate in August. Thereafter communities will have to endure the consequences, for which neither Mr Salter nor the Planning Inspectorate will be accountable.

Is this a sensible and equitable way to determine the future of Horsham District? I think not.

Dr ROGER F. SMITH

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

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