The Planning Inspector appointed by the Government published a letter on 19 December giving us his initial finding on the Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF), the 20-year plan for homes and jobs that the government requires all councils to produce.
In his letter, the inspector clearly states that he favours concentration of growth around Horsham, Southwater and Billingshurst along with some development in other villages, in accordance with Neighbourhood Plans that are currently being produced by communities across the district.
His only area of major concern with the HDPF is with the proposed level of housing provision. The inspector believes that we should accommodate more new housing than that proposed in the HDPF. In short, we need to accommodate an extra 100 homes per year, bringing our annual target to at least 750 new homes.
In order to give us time to identify how we are going to meet the level of housing need, the inspector has suspended the examination until early summer. This week, I will be meeting with the council’s strategic planning team to look at the options for accommodating these extra homes.
We should note that the inspector was very specific on some points, in particular the site on land North of Horsham, which as this newspaper concluded was given ‘the green light’.
He says it ‘offers the opportunity to provide housing, business development and social and community facilities at a sustainable location’. He is clear that he does not think that it should extend beyond the existing land allocated for development in the Plan and we will not be doing this.
Over the next few weeks, we will be looking again at our evidence base and the options available to locate the extra homes the inspector requires us to find.
Given that the inspector’s letter is on a subject that can become quite complicated, I find his statements very clear and unambiguous. In summary, he concludes that we are almost there with our Plan but he is obliging us to increase our housing number and given the short timetable he is certainly not expecting us to dramatically alter anything.
Above all, I really would encourage any reader of this paper who is interested in this matter to read his letter for themselves at www.horsham.gov.uk and reach their own conclusions.
(Con, Southwater) Cabinet Member for Living and Working Communities, Horsham District Council, North Street, Horsham