The majority of the Horsham district councillors who attended Monday’s Extraordinary Council Meeting, held to decide the application to build 2,750 houses and a business park on countryside North of Horsham voted, in favour of the application.
This was shameful.
That this development will provide only 18 per cent affordable housing instead of the 35 per cent required by the District’s local plan, the HDPF, counted for very little.
Indeed it was considered by some, including Cllr Vickers, to be a good deal for the District, which of course it isn’t.
However, there was a consensus among councillors that they were fearful that the Liberty Property Trust would secure permission at Appeal should the council defer permitting the application, to enable the site’s financial viability to be reassessed using up-to-date data and projections in expectation that the level of affordable housing would be increased.
Apparently, the council’s ‘negotiations’ with the trust were conducted on the basis that the council had no choice but to accept 18 per cent affordable homes.
‘Negotiation’ is certainly a misnomer for what seems to have taken place.
Fear is neither a sound nor equitable basis for deciding an application that was supposed to provide Horsham’s young people with homes that that they could afford either to rent or buy.
There is a political dimension to all of this which should neither be ignored nor forgotten.
Liberty Property Trust’s stance and behaviour has been enabled by policies imposed by central government and by the planning regime, which has been maintained and reinforced since 2010 by successive Conservative Ministers.
What say Mr Jeremy Quin who at the last general election was elected to represent the District at Westminster and who is again standing as a candidate for Horsham at the forthcoming elections?
Will he press for a more equitable planning system that would enable councils and the communities that they represent, not developers, to determine the future of their Districts?
Preventing repetition of what happened on Monday night should be high on his agenda.
Dr R.F. Smith
For Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Sussex (Horsham District), Bashurst Copse, Itchingfield