A Design Statement for Horsham Town
A note by the Horsham Society
over half way through the process of creating a Local
Development Framework for the District which will
replace the current 1997 Adopted Local Plan.
will comprise a Core Strategy, General Development
Control Policies, and Supplementary Planning Documents
(SPDs) which provide detailed guidance to supplement
produced by or in consultation with stakeholders but
are not statutory documents or subject to public
examination. Nevertheless, HDC says they are “a
material consideration in the determination of
planning applications and carry more weight in the
planning application decision making process than the
former Supplementary planning guidance”.
the only SPD published in draft covers Planning
Obligations (broadly what are now known as Sec 106
Agreements). The Masterplan for West of Horsham will
be another Supplementary Planning Document.
we need a Design Statement for Horsham Town?
reference document against which individual planning
applications will be judged is the General Development
Control Policies. Following consultation. the final
version of this has been submitted to the Secretary of
State for approval. (The key Development Control
policies are shown in Appendix A.)
drafting the document HDC decided against identifying
areas of special character within the town (although
they do feature in the current Local Plan) in favour
of stronger overall requirements for a development to
respect the context and character of the area within
which it is located.
Furthermore, the Core Strategy (CP3) makes specific
reference developments being expected to “complement
the varying character and heritage of the District,
particularly as defined in Village or Parish Design
Horsham Town Neighbourhood Character Assessments, Area
of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plans or
other design statements produced to indicate
principles of good design applicable to locally
this it is clear that the Council’s intention is that
development will be controlled by a combination of
overarching requirements within the GDCP informed by
Design Statements where these are available and have
been adopted by the Council. To form part of the LDF
local design statements need to be adopted as
Supplementary Planning Documents.
preparation and adoption of a Design Statement for
Horsham Town is an essential part of the LDF process.
Without such a Statement developers will have no
guidance to which to refer when planning schemes and
council officers will need to assess every application
from scratch. Given the very tight timescales which
officials have to meet in turning applications around,
and the inevitable turnover of staff, it is unlikely
that they will always have the resources necessary to
appreciate fully the historic, social, architectural
and planning context of the many differing areas of
Neighbourhood Appraisals prepared by the three
Neighbourhood Councils provide an excellent source of
relevant material but are not of themselves sufficient
to represent a design statement because in the main
they are descriptions of what exists at present rather
than what developers need to consider for future
Rowley, Head of Strategic and Community Planning at
HDC, has given his support for the preparation of a
Horsham Town Design Statement. But it has to be a
document produced by the community and not by the
Council. A joint steering committee has been set up
with representatives of the Horsham Society, the
Neighbourhood Councils, and North Horsham Parish
Council, with advice from HDC.
Development is both unavoidable and a necessary part
of the way in which urban areas adapt to changing
social and economic circumstances. What is important
is not how much development there is, or where it is
located, but whether it is appropriate having regard
to the character of the area, and is well designed.
We should not seek merely to replicate what we already
have. The diverse character of Horsham is the result
of successive developments, of many differing styles,
each the product of its period. A design statement
needs to accommodate innovation and to continue to be
relevant for years ahead.
will be a challenging piece of work and there will be
wide consultation with the community.
Main LDF page»