Cllr Vickers, seeking to justify the 18 per cent affordable homes offered by the Liberty Property Trust for their development North of Horsham, instead of the 35 per cent required by district’s local plan, stated that ‘a Government appointed Inspector assessed the site and found and found it suitable, sustainable and deliverable and approved it’ as part of the district’s local plan, the Horsham District Planning Framework (WSCT May 11).
She omits to mention that at the examination in public of the HDPF the Inspector was told that the North of Horsham site would deliver 35 per cent affordable housing, and he approved its inclusion in the HDPF with that understanding, as is made clear by his ‘Report to Horsham District Council’, 8 Oct 15.
Cllr Vickers also sought to justify the 18 per cent on the grounds that HDC has to ‘ensure that at least 800 houses are built each year until 2031’ in order to meet the housebuilding target, which she said was ‘given’ to the District by the Government (WSCT May 11). Thereby implying that the HDPF requirement to deliver 35 per cent affordable housing for this site, and the District’s need for affordable homes, is overridden by the need to meet the Government’s housebuilding target for the District.
Is that really the Government’s view? After all, the Government’s Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell MP, admitted in February that the Government’s track record on building new affordable homes was ‘embarrassing’ and ‘shockingly bad’.
It remains to be seen whether councillors will uphold HDPF policy on affordable housing and insist that the HDPF requirement for 35 per cent affordable homes be met.
If not, a vast tract of irreplaceable and beautiful countryside will be concreted over without meeting as it should the District’s need for affordable homes.
This would be ‘shockingly bad’ and a shameful dereliction of duty by the council.
Dr R.F. Smith
For Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Sussex (Horsham District), Bashurst Copse, Itchingfield
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