The true spirit of ‘localism’ at work

We agree entirely with the Editorial Comment in the County Times of December 6 about the development in Barns Green. It is indeed very refreshing to see the true spirit of ‘localism’ at work in a way that virtually everyone will applaud.

Let us consider just what has happened to allow this application to go forward.

First Berkeley Homes realised that the only way in which it was likely to be able to develop the land which it had purchased some years ago, in a rather different era, was to make the project really appealing to the local community.

To this end it identified a real community need and undertook to provide a new primary school. It further committed to build the type of houses the village residents themselves needed and to give them priority in buying them.

The fiscal deal proposed also freed money to improve village facilities.

Everyone wins – provided that Horsham District Council is prepared to over-rule or abolish its Planning Policy with regard to Category II settlements about which I wrote recently (WSCT November 22).

Compare this with Berkeley’s proposals in Southwater, be they for 500 or 2,750 houses. Here only lip service has been paid to the wishes of the community; perhaps because there is no infrastructure need.

A new secondary school has been cited as a ‘benefit’ but West Sussex County Council has informed us that it cannot even say whether or not there will be a ‘need’ for such a school in the future – there is certainly therefore no such ‘need’ now.

The balance is firmly negative in terms of what the development may provide.

Not in Southwater do we hear any suggestion of houses that might reflect what local residents and their families want – here naked profit is Berkeley’s ambition and of us is brazenly demanded the sacrifice of the heart and heritage of the community.

Does it wonder at our resistance? Cannot both Berkeley’s and our district planners learn from Barns Green and approach this issue differently?

We sincerely hope so – a long winter and summer of discontent helps nobody and prevents sensible consensus when this is sorely needed in relation to housing need.

Dr IAN THWAITES

on behalf of Keep Southwater Green, Marlhurst, Southwater