‘Sussex Countryside Charter’ launched to defend greenfields

Land were 2,500 homes and a new business park could be built  north of the A264.
Land were 2,500 homes and a new business park could be built north of the A264.

Campaigners have launched a ‘Sussex Countryside Charter’ to defend greenfields in the county against inappropriate housebuilding.

The Sussex branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is calling on residents, MPs, and councillors to sign up to the principles which they feel will see brownfield-first development, the creation of thriving and distinct places,a fair voice for local communities in planning, and smarter development.

The charity hopes this will show politicians the strength of feeling in the area, following a number of recent planning applications across the Horsham district either approved on appeal, or approved by the council because of the threat of losing an appeal.

David Johnson, CPRE Sussex chair, said: “We are saying loud and clear that whatever the Government’s original intentions, the reformed planning system is not working.

“Local people are being disregarded, open countryside is being developed while suitable brownfield land is left unused and too few affordable homes are being built.”

A six week period of representation closed last month on the controversial Horsham District Planning Framework Proposed Submission, approved by Horsham District Council in April.

The blueprint, which includes 2,500 homes and a new business park north of Horsham, will now be sent to the planning inspector along with the public’s comments.

They will then test the plan’s soundness in a series of public examination hearings later this year.

Roger Smith, CPRE Sussex Horsham district spokesperson, said;“The proposed development North of Horsham is Horsham District Council’s attempt to conform to government policy and in so doing placate the Planning Inspectorate.

“Until Horsham district’s Local Plan is approved by the Planning Inspectorate, developers will continue to submit opportunistic applications to build houses where they want to build them, irrespective of the wishes of communities, in expectation that any refusal by the council would be overridden at appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

“Developers are able to do this because the planning inspectorate insists that 1,200 plus houses a year should be built in Horsham district over the next five years – even though planning inspectors know and the council knows that this target is unachievable and therefore unreasonable.

“The result is piecemeal unplanned development, which is undermining the Neighbourhood Plans being produced by communities – and has made a mockery of Localism.

“Where, and in what numbers, houses are built should be decided by our elected representatives in consultation with communities through the Neighbourhood Plan process – not as it is now by developers and the Planning Inspectorate.”

For more information on the Charter visit cpresussex.org.uk

Meanwhile Roger Arthur district councillor and UKIP parliamentary candidate for Horsham, has started a petition to Government planning minister Nick Boles calling for him to allow local planning authorities to use historic experience to adjust their 20-year housing targets.

For more information visit https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-indiscriminate-housing-development