Alternative housing plan endorsed by North Horsham Parish Council

North Horsham Parish Council meeting to discuss alternative housing strategy (joshua Powling/Johnston Press)
North Horsham Parish Council meeting to discuss alternative housing strategy (joshua Powling/Johnston Press)

An alternative strategy to proposals for 2,500 homes north of the A264 gained approval from North Horsham Parish Council on Tuesday.

Watched by more than 40 members of the public the parish council agreed the broad principle behind an alternative strategy, and to meet with other parish councils and district councillors to consider a joint document.

The strategy suggests that Southwater could take large scale development, and argues for redevelopment of brownfield sites within Horsham town, and labels HDC’s current plan ‘a classic example of a local authority becoming too close to a developer’.

Roger Wilton, chairman of NHPC, said: “There are sufficient sites within the borders [of Horsham] that could produce the kind of [housing] numbers that are required.”

Horsham District Council is expected to approve its housing strategy for a six-week period of representation in April. It will then be sent to the planning inspectorate for examination.

Its draft strategy, which went out for consultation in August 2013, included a new business park and 2,500 homes north of Horsham, but a constant criticism of the process was a lack of options.

The alternative strategy by NHPC is the second produced in opposition to HDC’s draft housing proposals.

Last month seven Liberal Democrat district councillors covering Horsham town and Broadbridge Heath produced their own alternative strategy, criticising HDC for producing a plan ‘without references to local people and local businesses’.

Speaking at the meeting campaigner Geoffrey Richardson commended NHPC’s strategy, and suggested that they meet with the seven Lib Dems to produce a well-supported alternative to development north of the A264.

Referencing his comments made at a NHPC meeting last September Horsham district councillor Jim Rae (Con, Holbrook East) said: “I have not changed my view. What I said if you do not want it there you have to find an alternative.”

He told the audience that his personal preference had been an extension to the on-going Kilnwood Vale development west of Bewbush, but if alternatives to North Horsham were put forward they needed to be evidence based.

Horsham Society’s John Steele added: “What the council [HDC] has done is policy-based evidence. They have come up with the answer and retro-fitted it with the evidence.”

A meeting in public will be held by HDC tonight (Thursday February 13) to discuss jobs and housing at 5.30pm.