LETTER: Reactions to the plan

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There have been some interesting reactions to the Horsham District Council Local Plan for housing development, which was passed by HDC on July 25 for consultation.

For example the cabinet member was reported in one article as promising that, if Southwater accepted 500 homes, then no further development would take place in the village for the next 20 years.

Can we perhaps have similar promises for other areas of Horsham District, or was there perhaps a particular reason why preference should be given to Southwater?

Another article on August 8 suggested that ‘one could be forgiven for forgetting that Horsham District Council appears to be responsible for producing its own housing strategy’ and Government Ministers have certainly tried (unsuccessfully) to sustain that perception.

Unfortunately they gave their unelected inspectors the powers to impose unrealistic housing projections on local authorities, through ‘presumption-in-favour’, without allowing time for them to complete their Local and Neighbourhood Plans.

When asked to suspend those powers, to allow time for the Local Plans to be completed properly, they declined to do so, despite planning petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/

That and the delayed issue of HDC’s Local (housing) Plan, has left our beautiful countryside exposed to speculative and inappropriate development and it will be many months before consultation is complete and the plan is adopted.

Even then, the Inspectorate will require projections to be based on outdated SE Plan (SEP) methodology, based on population growth, when it is clearly the number of people who can afford to buy that determines the rate of building.

As a result, HDC feels compelled to seek a greater land allocation than is needed, which in turn places undue pressure on easy targets, such as North Horsham.

Clearly the Plan should include projections, properly adjusted for economic factors, contesting the SEP approach.

Also pointed out at the council meeting, the Plan did not list the alternatives which have were rejected.

So residents might be forgiven for concluding that consultation (on one option only) is a cynical exercise, particularly as the Plan gives no confidence that the associated infrastructure costs can be funded.

Concern at lack of access to NHS facilities must surely also be addressed and it should be clear by now that we are not going to get a new major General Hospital, on the back of the North Horsham development.

Surely the Local Plan must state how that is going to be addressed and how ambulance response times are going to be improved.

Would it be too much to ask for ambulance, fire and police stations to be combined, with distributed ambulances?

There is clearly much to do, before the Local Plan and the consultation process can be completed properly and yet Government Ministers refuse to suspend presumption in favour, to allow local authorities to complete their Plans.

They must bear the consequences for that.

In 2011, we were told that (under Localism) ‘Government is abolishing Labour’s Regional Strategies and putting elected local councillors back in charge, accountable to local people via the ballot box’.

They have failed to deliver against their promises of Localism and with two county council by-elections in-train, it is time for readers to have their say.

Neil Whitear

Vice-chairman, UKIP Horsham Branch, Crawley Road,