Southwater ruined forever

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I REFER to your article of June 9 regarding the proposed development of an additional 575 homes in Southwater.

Many people are not aware that planning is already in progress for over 200 houses, mainly in the Millfield area of the village, so the planners want to bring up to 800 houses, over 2,000 people and over 1,000 cars to our village.

To their credit the parish council voted six to two against the latest proposals despite chairman Mr Bull’s long speech in favour.

His advocacy centred on the proposition that today’s Southwater children would need somewhere to live in the village when they grew up. I wonder how many of us live in the vicinity of our childhood home?

His other point concerned the developer’s pledge to donate land for a secondary school.

That may be so but IF it were ever built, and there are no guarantees of funding, it would require the busing in of other children in the Horsham district, adding to an already chronic traffic problem in the rush hour.

We see massive recent developments in Billingshurst and work in progress at Broadbridge Heath. The green gap between Horsham and its satellite villages is rapidly closing.

I recently received a letter from Horsham District Council leader Robert Nye that states the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (May 2009) shows that a vacancy rate of 2.5-3 per cent is considered necessary to allow for the turnover of stock in the private sector and our rate in the Horsham district is ‘only’ 2.4 per cent.

So on the basis of 0.1 per cent variation it seems that Southwater and other local areas are vulnerable to extensive greenfield development and since 2009, two years ago, many houses have been built so we are probably now within that 2.5-3 per cent band anyway.

Despite the construction of Lintot Square, facilities are now in danger of overloading. The danger is that Horsham will become ‘Crawleyfied’ with Southwater, Barns Green, Christ’s Hospital and Broadbridge Heath becoming mere districts of a huge urban blob.

The environment, food production and social housing - houses that people can afford to rent - are the issues to be addressed in 2011, not meeting some nominal housing targets imposed by the last Government, using greenfield land and an 1970s rubbish dump that was the old railway cutting.

In January this year the Government issued a plain English guide to the Localism Bill, now passing through Parliament, which makes three relevant statements.

1. Too often, power is exercised by people who are not directly affected by the decisions they are making.

2. The Secretary of State has written to local authorities to tell them that the Government intends to abolish regional strategies and the Bill will do this.

3. Neighbourhood planning will allow people to come together through a local parish council or neighbourhood forum to say where they think new houses, businesses and shops should go - and what they should look like.

In view of all this one wonders why Horsham District Council is pushing ahead with these plans which will ruin Southwater forever.

BARRY LAFLIN

Woodfield, Southwater