LETTER: Open and transparent?
The '˜spin' from Liberty Property Trust about the North of Horsham development for 2,750 new homes sounds good, doesn't it?
With £50m being invested into infrastructure (schools, roads etc.) and with 30 per cent of the homes ‘affordable’ it must be a great deal for the community. Well, is it?
Let’s compare with the current Berkeley development at West of Southwater for 600 homes, also of which 30 per cent will be affordable. This site is contributing £20m towards infrastructure i.e. a rate of £33,333 per home.
Contrast this with North of Horsham, where apparently the rate is just £18,182 per home.
This woeful infrastructure shortfall for North of Horsham demands explanation.
But with the landowners pocketing in excess of £100m and the developers also extracting over £100m profit, a £50m contribution (N.B. not the full cost) towards mitigating infrastructure is probably all that’s left!
Now consider the promised 30 per cent ‘affordable’ homes. For some time the accepted ‘gold standard’ for affordable housing has been the ‘affordable rented’ i.e. homes for rent at lower than full market rates from housing associations and the like. That is why for many years the Horsham District Local Plan has aspired to get the vast majority of affordable properties as ‘non-market rent’.
The current target stated in the recently adopted HDPF is 24.5 per cent. This means that 674 of the 2750 homes should be ’affordable rent’, but just how many will? I doubt that we will get even half that figure.
So why is HDC apparently agreeing these infrastructure contribution and affordable housing deficiencies? I suggest that there are two reasons.
The NPPF which gives developers the whip-hand to plead poverty in the black art of viability assessments, often then ‘forcing’ councils to scale back their demands to allow a development to proceed.
The recently passed Housing and Planning Bill (voted for by MPs Quin and Herbert) which requires councils to count ‘starter homes’ in their affordable homes quotas, when clearly they aren’t, they are just an ideological bribe, benefiting only the initial purchasers.
Will we get to see and challenge the figures behind this bum deal? Well, we should do as HDC policy states ‘To ensure open and transparent decision making the Council expects all viability assessments to be publically available unless the applicant can clearly demonstrate why parts must be redacted’.
As yet, none of this viability information has been published as part of the planning papers. What are they trying to hide?
Cox Green, Rudgwick
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