Leader issues warning over North Horsham scheme

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Councillors have been warned about the consequences of not approving the North Horsham development by the leader of the district council.

Last month Horsham District Council’s Planning Committee North referred Liberty’s scheme for 2,750 homes and a business park north of the A264 to the authority’s Full Council for determination.

Committee members raised concerns both about a viability study used to justify the scheme missing the council’s affordable housing target and highway improvements planned to the A264.

The extraordinary meeting is now due to be held on Monday May 22.

Ray Dawe, leader of the council, has emailed members of Planning Committee South, where he said: “Should this application not succeed it would mean that we would be open to appeal by Liberty with virtually no defence since this site was ‘approved’ as the major part of the HDPF.

“It would leave the council open to very high costs and we would not only lose control of this application but be vulnerable to a spate of other planning applications.”

Asked if Mr Dawe’s email constituted predetermination or political interference, a spokesman for the council said: “Horsham District Council has an approved Local Plan (HDPF) that is supported by a decision of the Full Council.

“This includes the major strategic site promoted by Liberty north of Horsham.

“A meeting of the Planning Committee North called to discuss the Liberty application agreed to refer the decision to the Full Council.

“Following that meeting, the leader of the council informed those members who were not part of that committee what had happened.

“In doing this he pointed out what the consequences of refusing Liberty’s planning application for such a strategic site could have on the council’s ability to implement the agreed local plan.

“Councillors are free to express their views on relevant issues, as many often do, and this does not prevent them from participating in council business, nor does it amount to political interference or predetermination.

“The application will now be processed in accordance with the council’s constitution.”

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