Application for up to 500 homes is put on hold

Fields to the west of Worthing Road
Fields to the west of Worthing Road

A housing application for Southwater has been put on hold during what a campaigner has described as a ‘fine day for local democracy’.

Berkeley Homes has requested that its planning application for up to 500 homes to the West of Southwater be ‘held in abeyance’, meaning its application will not go to HDC full council until October 31.

Ian Thwaites, from the anti-development campaign group Keep Southwater Green, says that the developers’ press release - dated July 17 - is in concordance with this week’s refusal of permission for 550 homes in Billingshurst.

He said: “They will today (Tuesday July 17) have heard that district councillors overrode their planning department on two applications in Billingshurst and Henfield which were both refused.

“Not only were they turned down but councillor after councillor spoke of the need to listen; to consult over the long term plan and not to swamp the villages with unsustainable dormitory development.

“Today was a fine day for local democracy and one which Berkeley’s should note.”

Berkeley Homes asked that its application be held in abeyance last week and has explained that this is to ensure HDC’s draft District Planning Framework - or local plan - has been prepared before the application is considered.

Andrew McPhillips, development director of Berkeley Homes Southern, said: “There is a huge demand for new housing in this area and Horsham District Council needs to allocate land for new homes in the local plan.

“We feel that the area to the west of Southwater is ideally suited to help meet this demand and reduce development pressure on other parts of the district.”

Dr Thwaites has pointed out that Berkeley is more likely to have its application approved in October.

“Berkeleys are only too aware that HDC are likely to move towards adopting a plan for a vast number of houses over the next 20 years plus,” explained Mr Thwaites. “By October they may have moved to phase one of adopting such a plan. This might give Berkeley’s a better planning argument than they have at present.

“Berkeley’s is facing increasing questions about its amended proposals in terms of the percentage of affordable home, the 106 contributions, the un-sustainability of the development and the damage to the amenity and heritage of the village.

“For the community of Southwater there is no gain. The community has, almost with one voice, opposed the development.”

Mr McPhillips has explained that HDC’s local plan is likely to highlight ways in which the proposed development is needed in order to meet demands set out in the local plan.

He said: “The council’s local plan process has advanced quickly over recent months and we want to take this opportunity to put forward proposals for a comprehensive development at Southwater that can deliver a larger package of community infrastructure and benefits which respond to the comments that local people have made.

“The comprehensive development of the area to the west of Southwater would deliver a significant number of new homes along with a increased range of community facilities, including the land and funding for a new secondary school, as well as major transport infrastructure improvements.”