Council cabinet member quizzed on housing during live Facebook chat

Horsham District Councillor Claire Vickers - picture submitted by HDC
Horsham District Councillor Claire Vickers - picture submitted by HDC

The council’s cabinet member for housing fielding questions from residents on its new draft housing plan during a live Facebook chat this evening (Thursday September 5).

Claire Vickers, Horsham District Council’s cabinet member for living and working communities, was answering the public’s questions on the council’s new housing strategy, which it is currently consulting on.

It hopes to lay out how many and where houses will be built in the district over the next 20 years, and proposes 2,500 new homes and a business park North of Horsham, with 500 homes each in Billingshurst and Southwater.

Bob MacLean asked: “Has HDC approached Network Rail to find out if they are at all interested in building a new station? If so, who will have to pay for it? If Network Rail aren’t interested, the whole proposal falls flat on its face because the existing transport infrastructure won’t be able to cope.”

Mrs Vickers answered: “Thanks Bob, yes we have been talking to both Network Rail and the train operators, as have the developers who would fund any new station.”

Brian Smith said: “How would the council respond to the accusation that it’s simply easier and less work for them to allow developers to build on one large greenfield site than to deal with the extra hassle of allowing numerous developers to build on brownfield sites within the Horsham boundaries?”

Mrs Vickers answered: “Over the last ten years over 80 per cent of development has taken place across Horsham district on previously developed land. The development of brown field land continues to be our priority.”

Deborah Hammond said: “Re. secondary school in North Horsham for 2,500 houses - does this amount of housing constitute a need for a secondary school on its own? If not and the spaces are not taken up by children from the new development will this impact on catchments in the rest of North Horsham (i.e. Rusper, Faygate, Warnham, Colgate, Roffey, Holbrook)? And will it become a designated school for Kilnwood Vale and possibly Bewbush?”

Mrs Vickers responded: “Deborah, there is no indication from the education authority that the catchment areas would change. The current community will still be able to go to Millais and Forest schools as they do at the moment and any new school would be for the new development as and when it is required.”

Dave Norris asked: “Had HDC actually looked at other sites apart from the greenfileds in North Horsham. Like purchasing Searles yard, the Novatis site that will soon be empty etc etc. Why is it necessary to continually use green fields when we have so many brown [field] sites unused?”

Mrs Vickers replied: “Dave, I have been looking very carefully at all potential sites along with my colleagues including the ones you mention. If you want to look at the detail you may wish to look at the HDPF Sustainability Appraisal document that is on our web site.”

Brett Adshead said: “Planning inspectors ‘presumption in favour’ is based on long out of date population growth and economic climate predictions. These houses are not needed and will not be affordable by local people.”

Mrs Vickers answered: “Brett, you may want to look at the evidence on our web site in the HDPF supporting evidence web page. A lot of work has been done on assessing local needs. I don’t want to see a single additional house built than we absolutely need to.”

Sarah Harrison said: “What message does the tagline on the front planning framework:’putting the economy first’ give to the people of Horsham district?”

Mrs Vickers responded: “Hi Sarah, a strong economy benefits everyone in the district.”

At the end of the chat Mrs Vickers said that she would be holding another session in October.