Councils have a ‘duty to co-operate’ with neighbouring authorities when it comes to developing their local plans.
So when Cllrs Dawe and Vickers presented their plan to the Planning Inspectorate their planning officers had to show that it has made efforts to co-operate with neighbouring councils such as Crawley to assist them in meeting their housing targets – or more accurately the figures the Inspector arbitrarily imposes.
HDC went over the top in its endeavours to demonstrate to the Inspector that it had shown willingness to offer help to other councils.
It wrote letters with generous offers of help to a whole group of other councils - Brighton, Mid-Sussex, Crawley, Mole Valley, Croydon and so on.
I didn’t find evidence of other councils rushing to offer to help Horsham. Was this HDC being clever or just naive?
HDC had already agreed that Kilnwood Vale could be built on brownfield land to contribute towards Crawley’s needs.
The Inspector looked at HDC’s initial target figure per annum of 650 – in which there is an element of 80 houses pa for Crawley – showing generous duty to co-operate.
Instead of our great leader Cllr Dawe and his underwhelming housing guru Cllr Vickers standing firm and saying ‘No we’ve done our bit we are not agreeing to any more unless you show us the hard local evidence that would justify this increase – with which we could persuade the public that it is fair’ – they rolled over.
Inspector Salter decided 750 sounded a better number. He could tell his Chief Planning Inspector boss Mr Simon Ridley that he had squeezed another 100 houses pa out of the Horsham pot. ‘It was easy to get those rustic yokels to fall into line’, or something like that. That should please No 10 Downing Street.
Ah, but we hadn’t finished. Mr Salter was onto a winner – why not go for another 50pa?
On July 3 when he came back – he in effect ignored everyone else and just let the developers regail him with national not local figures – and he seemed to come to an agreement with them late in the afternoon – implying something like (recording failed) - ‘I could get away with another 50?’
What I can’t understand in all this ‘duty to co-operate’ ritual – is why has the West of Ifield site dropped off the radar?
It is on HDC land and a few years ago HDC and Crawley DC agreed it as a preferred site. Then it all fell apart.
And why has the Inspector told Crawley DC to deal with a Main Modification to the effect that Crawley DC must fulfil its duty to co-operate with Horsham. Strange.
Dr GEOFFREY RICHARDSON
Tennyson Close, Horsham
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