LETTER: Safeguard against urban sprawl

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As a Horsham (Pondtail Road) resident of almost 40 years, I have been following the debate about the proposed North Horsham development with mounting interest and alarm.

This Tory-led council (and now a Planning Inspector who apparently wasn’t in possession of all relevant information) appear to have completely ignored the Government’s guidance issued in early October 2014, which stated that, once established, green belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional cases.

It also states that housing need does not justify the harm done to the green belt by inappropriate development. The guidance reaffirms how councils should use their Local Plan to

safeguard the local area against urban sprawl, and protect the green lungs around towns and cities.

It states that Local Plans are now at the heart of the reformed, democratic planning system, so councils can decide where development should and shouldn’t go in consultation with local people.

Eric Pickles said: “This government has been very clear that when planning for new buildings, protecting our precious green belt must be paramount... Today’s guidance will ensure that councils can meet their housing needs by prioritising brownfield sites, and fortify the green belt in their area.”

So, what happened to consultation with local people? And which brownfield sites have been given priority?

I understand that neighbouring Mole Valley District Council abandoned their Local Plan and went back to the drawing board just weeks after these guidelines were issued. What a shame our council saw fit to go another route.

Still, when all is said and done, Mr Dawe and his cohorts have only a few weeks left in office and it is to be hoped that the local people will finally have their say in May.

Or maybe Mr Dawe could do the honourable thing for once and get out now.

DAVID MILLER

Pondtail Road, Horsham