Spread of expansion

HORSHAM MP Francis Maude’s comments in your edition of April 5 raised my hackles in asserting that the new Localism Bill and Planning Framework gives control to ‘communities’ – which seems a long way from the reality, given the comments of Southwater’s parish chairman.

In practice it gives all the control for housing numbers and their location to Horsham District Council alone – which is NOT a single community.

Since the current Housing Needs consultation is explicit in identifying the candidate sites for their favoured large, concentrated developments, the representatives of communities not threatened by development can happily impose large housing numbers on those other communities that will double in size, suffering the loss of community that it implies.

I wonder how keen our councillors would be to go along with high housing numbers if it were a level playing field – if there were an equal chance of a large development appearing in their own parish or ward.

Sadly such concentrations seem to come with some loss of control over the detail – such as the suitability of the housing mix or the fair distribution of the development gain.

A major argument in the Housing Needs Survey is that economic development follows housing development. It then follows that if all development is in conspicuously sustainable locations – near to large towns and their existing facilities – then communities not blessed with such sustainability, and so development, will decline.

Perhaps rural bus services, economic activity and parish life would benefit from a more even spread of housing expansion.


Tower Hill, Horsham