Ray Dawe: We may not like the change that growth brings but we need to plan and get the best we can from it

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Is growth inevitable? Well, if we are to maintain our standard of living and provide all the facilities we need then the answer is yes.

And with all the main political parties firmly committed to a robust house building programme, the answer once again would appear to be yes!

So as the local planning authority, how do we manage that growth and how do we ensure that the result is a positive one in terms of the impact on our community?

Planning for growth is certainly no easy task, as we have seen through the protracted and at times painful process of submitting our local plan for jobs and homes over the next 20 years.

If growth is coming then this is also an opportunity to ensure we get much needed new infrastructure delivered from developers.

As communities grow, so the need increases for more schools, sporting facilities, health provision and job opportunities. It may need a new and different response than we have come to expect.

Last year the body responsible for organising the delivery of NHS services (the Clinical Commissioning Group) made it clear that their vision of health provision moving forward is not based around building new A&E Hospitals, but rather in developing more facilities locally.

The plan is to use doctors’ surgeries and enlarged health centres to perform minor operations while having more skilled paramedics dealing with emergency treatment, and the ability to go a regional hospital with expertise in a particular field.

The stated aim is to give residents more choice to access services closer to home, from their local GP and community hospitals.

Building strong balanced communities that can manage growth is vital to ensuring we protect the quality of life that we have all come to enjoy in the Horsham District.

Seeing local businesses flourish and attracting new ones is key to the vitality of our high streets, our employment possibilities and to all our futures.

Providing jobs, especially highly skilled jobs for young professionals, gives our younger people a real chance to live and work in the District and to enjoy and contribute to that quality of life we have come to expect.

If we don’t do this then other countries and our neighbouring counties and districts will attract the inward investment and as our resident population ages we face becoming an older worker and retirement community.

Almost 50 per cent of our working residents commute out of the Horsham District to work everyday.

This is the highest in West Sussex. We need to look at providing more employment opportunities close to where people live and using environmentally friendly and sustainable forms of transport.

So simply put, we may not like the change that growth brings but like every flourishing country, city and town we need to plan and get the best we can from it otherwise existing businesses will close or move away with nothing to replace them.

So let’s make that growth enhance the quality and enjoyment of life for all our community - young and old!