Cabinet member ‘will not vote for housing’

Just days before consultation on the draft housing strategy closes a councillor became the first cabinet member to publicly oppose proposals for 2,500 homes north of Horsham.

Sunday, 13th October 2013, 8:30 am
Horsham District Councillor Andrew Baldwin - picture submitted by HDC

Andrew Baldwin (Con, Holbrook East), Horsham District Council’s cabinet member for the environment, emailed a constituent to say he would ‘not vote for any proposal for development north of the A264’.

Despite confirming to the County Times that he did not want and would not vote for North Horsham proposals, he said the consultation was ‘genuine’ and plans were not a ‘done deal’.

Mr Baldwin said: “I can understand people seeing that way and it does appear that way, but it’s not, it’s a genuine consultation and if something comes up with more merit we would look at that.

“I do not want 2,500 houses north of the A264.”

Personally he said he was hoping for a new settlement near Cowfold and Bolney.

He explained: “I’m hoping some other site will come forward but people will think it’s likely to be North Horsham.”

In recent weeks several councillors have said that simply saying no to housing was not an option and residents had to come up with constructive alternatives.

Last week Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry), leader of HDC, said any comment on its strategy must be ‘objective and reasoned’.

While Mr Baldwin was bound by collective responsibility within HDC’s cabinet he said his first loyalty was to the residents of Holbrook East and his second to the Conservative Party.

Mr Baldwin explained: “I have serious concerns about infrastructure so it’s unlikely that I could support it, although until I know what is being proposed I can’t make a decision.”

He added: “Unless they can address the infrastructure issues, which I do not think personally they can, there will be problems.

“It will be difficult for people to give the go ahead unless the infrastructure issues are addressed.”

He pointed out that Horsham had only three arterial roads leading into the town, and with an extra 2,500 houses getting into the town centre would be a ‘struggle’.

Consultation on HDC’s draft preferred housing strategy is due to close on Friday October 11.

On any future planning application for land north of the A264 he added: “I do not want to see greenfields built on.

“I will not be voting for it.”