LETTER: Developers back in the driving seat

Your letters
Your letters

Harry Shutt’s letter in last week’s WSCT, provides a good assessment of defects in the HD Planning Framework, in the procedure leading up to its adoption and on actions taken by the PI (Planning Inspector).

The PI considered the HDPF to be flawed i) in that HDC had failed to justify the housing need and ii) in that a clear link between housing and employment figures needs to be demonstrated, although that may not be evident from HDC’s website.

The PI sought updated employment forecasts, in relation to his query regarding the possible lack of other employment sites. At least one report indicated little need for more business space in the local area - other than for warehousing or distribution, but the PI did not acknowledge that.

Also the 20 year housing target still remains to be adjusted for market fundamentals since i) only 450pa dwellings were built in 8 years before the recession, ii) the house price/salary ratio in the District is now above 10:1 and iii) the Planning Minister has said that such an adjustment needs to be made.

Since the original target of 650 new dwellings per annum was not so adjusted, it is going to be interesting to see how the PI deduced that the target should be increased to 750pa.

We can ask again for copies of the calculations that led to his adjustment to 750pa+, but I don’t hold out much hope of getting them into the public domain.

We also need to know how the infrastructure funding gap is likely to be closed, eg i) by raising S106/CIL contributions, ii) by reducing the percentage of Affordable Houses (AH) or iii) by building more houses - a question that was raised on the last day of the initial Hearing.

It is of course inequitable that taxpayers should pay £40million pa to support a Planning Inspectorate that often overrides the judgment of Local Authorities, while the Inspector does not have to justify his/her decisions to us.

Sadly the unattainable 20 year target leaves the District exposed to further inappropriate development, because it will not be long before HDC is once again seen to fall behind the target, putting developers back into the driving seat. Such is the “Localism” that was promised by Tory Ministers.

Roger Arthur

Melrose Place, Storrington

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