New Horsham District Council leader’s words are to be welcomed

No subject is more controversial for Sussex councils than that of producing local plans which meet the legal requirement to accommodate vast numbers of new houses.

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 3:26 pm
Jonathan Chowen

No subject is more controversial for Sussex councils than that of producing local plans which meet the legal requirement to accommodate vast numbers of new houses.

This has been especially true for the Horsham District.

Residents, quite rightly, expect their elected representatives to protect their towns, villages and rural landscape. Once lost it will never be replaced.

So in his acceptance speech as leader of Horsham District Council, many will have been heartened by the words of Jonathan Chowen who said there was now a unique opportunity to reset lower housing numbers.

He said: “I want to protect and enhance Horsham town, our historic villages and beautiful countryside – not build all over it with imposed housing numbers that ignore the needs of our residents.

“I will work with both of our Members of Parliament and to quote Michael Gove, to achieve ‘a fairer and more equitable housing need’ and that ‘current assumptions are probably out of date.’”

Well said.

We wish Mr Chowen and his new cabinet every success with this noble aspiration. We will back them in their discussions with Government – not least as the Prime Minister made a pledge to protect our green-fields in his conference speech. And we will encourage opposition parties to hold them to account throughout the process.

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Horsham’s new council leader determined to fight for lower housing numbers

Everyone wants to see sensible numbers of new homes – especially carbon neutral ones which truly are affordable and designed for local people. There are ways of achieving this – not least with eco-friendly and energy efficient kit homes which can be provided on a leasehold basis minimising land costs and facilitated by the local authority.

But we are a long way from this being the norm.

It is terrific to see some real and substantive talent in the new cabinet. Young farmer James Wright, wise and experienced Liz Kitchen, and of course Christian Mitchell.

This newspaper dubbed Mr Mitchell ‘the people’s champion’ a decade or so ago for fearlessly standing up for Horsham town. Until now, no leader has shown the good sense to put him in the cabinet.