‘Empty’ homes reason for parish council objection

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THE EXISTING number of ‘empty’ homes in Pulborough was used by parish councillors to justify their objection to another development in the South Downs village.

On Thursday December 8, Hanbury Properties presented revised plans to build 103 homes off Stane Street.

However, these were met with disapproval from the three planning committee councillors present, with two objecting and one abstaining.

Local action group the Campaign to Protect Rural Pulborough Village (CPRPV) also stated it ‘wholeheartedly’ opposed the Hanbury Properties’ application.

A spokesperson for the Chichester-based developers said: “It is disappointing that the parish council has raised an objection to the revised proposals when raising no objection to the earlier scheme.

“The proposal will provide new homes including affordable housing to meet local need.

“In June of this year there were 285 households on the Council Housing Register whom indicated Pulborough as an area of choice.”

However, during the meeting chairman David Jolliffe said: “We cannot justify more homes when there were 400 empty ones either built or planned to be built in the village.”

Approached by the County Times, Horsham District Council has confirmed there are significant numbers of empty and unsold homes in the area.

A spokesperson said: “There are 129 housing units built or committed in the Pulborough area, including the 87 as part of the Oddstones development.”

In addition HDC included another 130 previously built on the Riverside Concrete site taking the total to 259 homes.

Despite this, Simon Jenkins, a director of Adams Integra Housing and Planning, working with Hanbury Properties, maintained there is a ‘demonstrable housing need in Horsham and in Pulborough at the moment’.

Hanbury also reinforced the choice of housing it is proposing, stating the development would offer a mix of market housing to provide homes for a wide cross section of the community, with the developers hoping to attract many local purchasers.

Mr Jenkins confirmed they would be abiding by set affordable housing targets. He said: “Affordable housing policies in Horsham district are robust and reasonable requiring a target of 40 per cent of sites to be affordable housing of some kind.

“Horsham apply policies which are no more or less onerous than other authorities in the region,” he added.

An HDC spokesperson confirmed that a housing needs survey in the village, carried out in May, showed that 82 households were in need of affordable housing.

The objections from the action group CPRPV centred around other issues rather than affordable housing though.

Group member Ben Cooper presented a powerpoint presentation which highlighted objections ranging from increased traffic, problems with air quality and sewerage.

Mr Cooper also said, because the proposed development would be on a green field site, they were concerned about a precedent being set. He said: “If the houses were built on the green field land this could start a domino effect of other developers applying to build on the land and getting planning permission because this project had been put forward.”

Other members of the public asked the council to back the view of the people they represent and object to the application. Three councillors submitted apologies for their absence from proceedings.

The Hanbury Properties planning application will be heard by HDC in the New Year.

To view the plans visit http://public-access.horsham.gov.uk/public-access/ and enter reference DC/11/0952.