Letter: Southwater development - ‘Scales balanced against local people’

Traffic problems in Southwater created by new developent SUS-171129-090741008
Traffic problems in Southwater created by new developent SUS-171129-090741008

On November 21, I spoke on behalf of the local residents of Southwater on DC/17/2025, a planning application to amend previous conditions that would allow the developer to sell 20 houses of the 193 approved before necessary roadwork is completed.

This roadwork has caused significant frustration and annoyance for not just the people of Southwater, but also all those who use the A24 at peak times.

Those objecting and I argued that the roadworks should have to be completed before the occupancy of any homes could take place, as had previously been agreed.

This would give an incentive to the developer to complete the necessary work for local residents, our fear being that if the application to change these conditions was allowed the developer would forget about the roadworks they had agreed to and instead focus on selling houses.

Thank goodness, the committee overwhelmingly agreed with me, the developer would have to wait to sell homes until they had completed the works!

However, a problem. After agreeing to refuse permission, we were told that there was ‘no planning grounds’ for refusal by officers, and with the developer listening that if we refused this outright, we would be liable for costs if we lost on appeal – hitting our taxpayers.

The committee suggested many reasons, but officers swatted each down as not good enough.

Therefore, the committee agreed a compromise, 20 houses would be allowed occupancy if the traffic lights were to be manned at ‘peak hours’ and roadworks were completed as soon as possible.

In my mind and in the mind of many councillors – not good enough!

I understand the concern of officers for the taxpayer and foresight to see any developer appeal, but it shows how the scales are balanced against local people.

Planning power in this instance did not lie with me, as your elected representative, but with the developer, who pursued this amendment to boost their own cash flow.

Developers played the committee; they knew we had no wiggle room on ‘planning grounds’.

It is so frustrating that developers not only know the rules, but also change them to their advantage and in doing so can silence local voices so easily.

I am very disappointed.

Billy Greening

(Con) Horsham district councillor for Southwater, Chart Way, Horsham