Horsham district sees large rise in housebuilding

Housebuilding
Housebuilding

The rate of housebuilding across the Horsham district increased by more than 45 per cent last year - buoyed by a large number of completions at the Kilnwood Vale development.

A total of 1173 new homes were built in 2017/18, up from 808 dwellings the previous year, according to the latest Authority Monitoring Report.

Factoring in estimated losses the net completion figure for last year was slightly lower at 1,125 homes, but still easily the second-highest figure in recent times.

Last year’s housebuilding figure included 353 new homes completed in the Kilnwood Vale development west of Bewbush near Crawley.

This compares to just 24 homes finished at the south of Broadbridge Heath site and 39 units on the Berkeley Homes’ West of Horsham Highwood development.

Meanwhile the number of affordable homes delivered in 2017/18 was the highest total in the past seven years at 249 of which 159 were social/affordable rent properties and 90 were intermediate (shared ownership).

However the percentage of overall homes completed which were affordable in 2017/18 was 21 per cent, down from 37 per cent the previous year.

As of April 2018 there were 592 househoulds on the council’s housing register, down from 656 the previous year, but up from 2016 when the figure was 520.

The council’s policy is for 35 per cent affordable housing on sites of more than 15 dwellings and either 20 per cent or a financial contribution for developments of between five and 14 units.

The average house price in the Horsham district was £379,350 in 2018, compared to £333,354 for West Sussex and £326,785 for the South East area, according to Land Registry figures from October.

House sales in the district in 2017/18 totalled 2,570 down 4.9 per cent from the previous year and 16.1 per cent lower than the figure for 2015/16.

The council’s overall housing target, set in the Horsham District Planning Framework agreed in November 2015, is for 800 new homes a year.

Horsham District Council is currently carrying out a review of its local plan, with a preferred strategy due to be published for consultation in the autumn.

Roger Smith, a trustee from the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s Sussex branch, has warned that a new annual target for the Horsham district could be in excess of 1,000 homes a year.

This would be calculated using the Government’s new formula based method, which it introduced to help drive up housebuilding across the country.

Referencing Mayfield Market Towns’ proposals for a new settlement on the Horsham/Mid Sussex border, Dr Smith said: “The countryside targeted by MMT– and the countryside across Horsham district and beyond, including Arun and Mid Sussex districts, has been deliberately made vulnerable to large-scale development by Government policies, including the new and rigged formula-based method for calculating housebuilding targets, and the Government’s spurious narrative that councils are to blame when developers reduce build rates to maintain profit margins thereby jeopardising supply and delivery requirements.”