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 Current issues

February 2010 

West of Horsham Development:

The deal between Horsham District Council and Berkeley Homes

 

Berkeley Homes are the developers of the eastern portion of the huge West of Horsham Development scheme.

 

In June 2009 Horsham Council’s Development Management Committee  considered and approved a report  from its officers  summarizing discussions which had been held with Berkeley Homes regarding their assertion that the development east of the A24 was no longer viable on the basis of the package of community benefits required by the Council.  The report recommended that Berkeley’s liabilities in this respect be both reduced and capped.  The Report drew on the view’s of the independent District Valuer to support the officer’s assessment of what was affordable if the development was to proceed as planned.

 

Given the importance of the District Valuer’s report to the Council’s case the Horsham Society made a request on 23 June for a copy under the Freedom of Information Act.   This was refused on 20 July.  We lodged an appeal on 22 July and received a further refusal on 5 August.

 

We therefore referred our request to the Information Commissioner who advised the Council that it should comply with our request and provide a redacted copy.  The Council accepted this advice and in a letter of 15 October provided a heavily redacted copy of the District Valuer’s report.

 

The Society wrote to the Chief Executive on 18 October questioning the way in which the District Valuer’s report had been used in support of the officers’ recommendation .  The Chief Executive responded on 23 November.  You can read the redacted District Valuer’s report at

http://tinyurl.com/y9leaoz .

 

Early in March 2010 the Council’s plans were thrown into disarray when the plans were put on hold when the Development Management Committee was faced with two new factors: the news that the Secretary of State had dismissed two appeals for similar developments which failed to provide 40% affordable housing, and Countryside Properties (who are due to develop the site to the west of the A24) saying that they expected to be treated on a par with Berkeley Homes.

Countryside’s intervention was inevitable following the Council’s favourable treatment of Berkeley Homes.

Now we are told by the West Sussex County Times (16th April) that Berkeley homes are prepared to find up to £7.25m in the period up to 2020 for additional affordable housing.

Taken together these developments vindicate the Horsham Society’s view that the Council, in declining to take heed of the District Valuer’s independent advice, had failed to get the best deal for the residents and Council Taxpayers.
 

HDC Development Management Report»
Society's letter to HDC 18.10.2009»
HDC's reply 23.11.2009»
External link to District Valuer's report
»