Decision to allow rejected homes an ‘insult’ to Billingshurst

JPCT 210312 Planning permission declined for land at end of Daux Avenue, Billingshurst. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 210312 Planning permission declined for land at end of Daux Avenue, Billingshurst. Photo by Derek Martin

New homes in Billingshurst originally rejected by the council were approved by the Government’s planning inspector last week.

An application by Bellway Homes for 46 houses off Daux Avenue, heard in March 2012, was the third on the site turned down by Horsham District Council (HDC).

The first two appeals were dismissed, but the third was overturned by the inspector. In a written report he said that the number of houses proposed would not have much effect on the character of Billingshurst.

David Mowling, leader of Save Billingshurst Action Group (SBAG), said: “Billingshurst has had over 400 new properties over the last five or six years. We have taken more than our fair share.

“This is an insult to the people of Billingshurst, and to some extent it’s an insult to Horsham District Council because they have refused it several times before. They must feel as aggrieved as us. I just find it ridiculous.”

With county council elections due in two weeks and a General Election due by 2015, he thought current planning policies were doing real damage in a traditional Tory heartland, labelled the planning system ludicrous, and called for a complete overhaul.

The report added: “In the first place, and most importantly of all, there is a need to address the housing shortfall as a matter of urgency. To postpone dealing fully with the problem would delay meeting the legitimate aspirations of households and communities to have the homes that they require.

“Second, without the imperative of having to meet the requirement for homes now and in the short term there would no certainty that the council would ever deal with the shortfall.”

The council is currently drawing up its new Local Development Framework for the next 20 years, but if the Government expects it to hold to the abolished South East Plan figures, it would have to identify 650 homes per year.

According to figures seen by the County Times the district has only 1,315 net completions over the five years up to 2010/11, an average of 263 a year.

If the inspector’s view is upheld, a total of 5,750 homes will be needed over the next five years, with 3,300 of those already identified through planning permissions granted.

Billingshurst is also facing an appeal for 550 homes, which is due to be heard in October, with Secretary of State Eric Pickles expected to have the final say.

Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater), HDC’s new cabinet member for living and working communities, met with Horsham MP and minister for the cabinet office Francis Maude on Friday to lobby for a change in the way the Government was interpreting housing shortfalls.