Realistic target for new homes

Cllr Jenkins is concerned that Horsham district does not have a five-year land supply and that we are ‘vulnerable to hostile appeals’ in consequence (County Times October 25).

This is because the huge house-building target set by the South East Plan for the district, of 650 new houses per year, has been shown to be excessive and developers have consistently failed to meet it. It is unachievable and neither councillors nor Government Ministers can compel developers to build more houses than they can sell.

Would it not therefore be reasonable and sensible for the council to opt for a lower and more realistic target for its emerging Local Development Plan (LDP) for the period to 2031?

After all, the Prime Minister when interviewed before the recent Conservative Party conference, said that the Government is not going to impose top-down targets on local authorities.

However, a member of Horsham District Council’s cabinet has stated that because the South East Plan still stands the council must set an annual housing-building target for the district’s LDP to 2031 that is no less than that set by the Plan. This is surprising – and questionable - because the South East Plan’s abolition is believed to be imminent.

Mid Sussex District Council, which has opted for a lower house-building target than set by the South East Plan, is delaying the submission of its LDP until after the South East Plan has been abolished.

One might suppose, that Horsham District Council would do likewise, but no – cabinet members are determined to go ahead and set a house-building target for Horsham district’s LDP that either equals or is greater than that set by the soon to be abolished South East Plan.

Should HDC’s cabinet succeed in its contentious aspiration to impose an excessive number of houses on Horsham district - and developers not deliver because the required annual build rate is greater than market demand - Horsham district will continue to be ‘vulnerable to hostile appeals’.

Dr R.F. SMITH

For and on behalf of Council for the Protection of Rural England, Sussex – Horsham and Crawley, Bashurst Copse, Itchingfield