According to national media, the Housing Minister Gavin Barwell MP has admitted that the Government’s track record on building new affordable homes was ‘embarrassing’ and ‘shockingly bad’.
He and his fellow MPs should indeed be embarrassed. After all, the shockingly bad under-delivery of affordable homes is due in large part to the NPPF and the policies of successive Governments since 2010, which has enabled developers and house builders to evade requirement to meet local plan targets for affordable homes.
In Horsham District, the US company, which having secured the allocation of c.800 acres of countryside north of Horsham in the Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF), as a strategic site for development, has offered in its planning application for the site less than the 35 per cent affordable housing required by the HDPF.
In the application, the company seeks to justify less than 35 per cent on the spurious grounds that the HDPF requirement is a ‘proposal’ when in reality the 35 per cent is a requirement stipulated in an adopted local plan, not a ‘proposal’.
District councillors will recall that Mr Salter, the Planning Inspector who examined the HDPF, approved the inclusion of North of Horsham as a strategic site with the understanding that it would deliver 35 per cent affordable housing.
It remains to be seen whether councillors will uphold the HDPF and insist that the HDPF requirement for 35 per cent affordable homes be met. If not, a vast tract of countryside will be concreted over for the financial benefit of investors without meeting the District’s need for affordable homes. This would be ‘shockingly bad’ and a shameful dereliction of duty.
Dr R.F. Smith
For Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) Sussex (Horsham District), Bashurst Copse, Itchingfield
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