Horsham district’s planning framework set for formal adoption

How the County Times revealed details of the North Horsham scheme back in January 2012
How the County Times revealed details of the North Horsham scheme back in January 2012

Horsham district’s planning framework could be formally adopted by the council tonight (Thursday November 19).

The process have proved controversial with some residents, who have opposed plans for thousands of homes and a business park north of the A264, but others have argued an adopted plan will allow the council to fight off speculative and piecemeal development.

Horsham District Council’s Full Council is due to meet tonight and is expected to formally adopt the local plan, after it was rubber stamped by the planning inspector.

Initial examination hearings into the plan were held in November 2013 and inspector Geoff Salter told the council to up its housing target from 650 homes a year to 750 up to 2031. Then after the plan was modified and hearings resumed in July, the target was increased to 800 per annum.

In Mr Salter’s final report he said that the plan should be subject to an early review to identify areas of housing needed to meet the increasing housing requirement.

He concluded that the overall strategy of concentrating growth on the three main settlements in the district, Horsham, Southwater and Billingshurst, was sound.

Mr Salter added: “In conclusion, the allocation [North Horsham development] offers the opportunity to provide necessary housing, business development and community facilities at a sustainable location.”

Developer Liberty’s proposals for land north of Horsham were first unveiled by the County Times in January 2012 and at first included a new acute hospital alongside 4,500 homes. But the chance of a new hospital appeared to have ended in April 2013, and when a revised scheme for North Horsham was included in HDC’s preferred strategy in the summer of 2013, it included a new business park instead of a hospital and was for only 2,500 homes.

After this Horsham residents packed out North Heath Hall with campaigners claiming the town was facing ‘the biggest decision in a generation’.

During the examination hearings Martin Pearson, former chief executive of HDC, returned from retirement to oppose the North Horsham development and argue that the character of the town would be ‘changed forever’.

Meanwhile shortly before the resumption of examination hearings, an attempt by backbench Conservative councillors to shelve the North Horsham plans was narrowly defeated.

Now HDC’s local plan is set for formal adoption, and Liberty is expected to submit an outline application shortly.

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