Of the many dubious arguments put forward by council leader Ray Dawe and other supporters of the disastrous Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF) probably the most compelling, if also the most contemptible, is the assertion that the council has effectively no choice in the matter, given the limitations imposed on it by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) since 2012.
By drastically relaxing planning restrictions on new housing development, while retaining unrealistically high targets for new housebuilding, the NPPF allows Cllr Dawe and his colleagues to claim that failure to adopt this flawed plan will leave the District totally exposed to indiscriminate development and a Planning Inspectorate heavily biased to approving almost any planning application in line with the ‘presumption in favour’.
The reality, as often pointed out by Cllr Roger Arthur, is that even if this Plan is approved it will still leave us exposed to the destructive whims of developers, bearing in mind that there is now effectively a permanent backlog of new housing units approved in relation to the ludicrously excessive, centrally imposed targets. If Cllr Dawe, Vickers and Rae et al were sincere they would be making vigorous protests against their own government’s ruinous policy which has led to this situation.
A golden opportunity to do this was presented by the opening in April of an inquiry by the Select Committee for Communities and Local Government into the working of the NPPF.
As can be seen from the relevant website - http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/communities-and-local-government-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/national-planning-policy-framework/?type=Written#pnlPublicationFilter - many Local Planning Authorities from across the country have submitted evidence, many of them highly critical of what they evidently regard as a developers’ charter.
The fact that our own elected representatives have chosen to remain silent rather than use this opportunity to voice the widespread and growing alarm of the public – as expressed notably through your paper – speaks volumes about their real attitude to the threat posed by the NPPF to our community, notwithstanding their ritual shedding of crocodile tears over their supposed powerless in face of it.
Fortunately a group of concerned local residents was able to express many of our serious worries to the Select Committee before the deadline for written submissions on 8 May. This document can be found at the above site under the name of Future Horsham – or at the group’s own website (http://www.futurehorsham.info/).
Rather than demonstrate any such concern themselves for the welfare of those they are supposed to represent our leaders have sought to hide their betrayal behind the tired excuse – famously used by the defendants at the Nuremberg war crimes trial – that they are ‘just obeying orders’.
Allingham Gardens, Horsham