The decision by the Horsham District Council planning committee to go against their officers’ advice and to refuse the application in respect of 550 dwellings in Billingshurst is questionable as it risks being appealed, the success of which will be enhanced by virtue of the officers’ recommendation to approve.
However, concerns regarding the committee’s decision pale into insignificance compared with the officers’ recommendation to approve the application in the first place which flies in the face of the statutory and local planning framework.
When one considers that analysis of the statutory and development control framework in the report is virtually relegated to the role of postscript, ceding priority to green roofs, design characteristics and hedgerows, then its claim to make decisions in a plan-led way is shown for what it is: empty rhetoric.
And it is not the first report from planning officers which, like a miasma, attempts to obfuscate their flagrant disregard for the community-supported local plan.
Taken in combination, these decisions make it clear that housing development control at Horsham council is dysfunctional and unless this is resolved threatens to render any development of revised plans redundant before it begins.
Councillors and management will need to get a grip on this situation before it brings the council into disrepute and possibly lands the community with more unnecessary, unwanted and unjustified development.
Cedar Drive, Southwater