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 Planning: strategic issues

March 2011 

16 March 2011

 

Tom Crowley

Chief Executive

Horsham District Council

Park North

North Street

Horsham

RH12 1RL

 

 

Dear Mr Crowley

 

 

DRAFT INTERIM STATEMENT: MANAGING DEVELOPMENT IN HORSHAM DISTRICT

 

I am writing on behalf of the Horsham Society in response to the consultation on the Draft Interim Statement .

 

The Horsham Society has been broadly supportive of the Council’s approach to strategic planning and the need to respond to the problems that have occurred in the delivery of the adopted Core Strategy.  There is little doubt that once the present economic problems are behind us the build out rate on the West of Horsham site will pick up as there is no evidence that the underlying demand for new homes has diminished.  We also believe that there will be a further continuing demand for new homes in the period up to 2026 which will need to be addressed through the core strategy review.

 

The immediate requirement to prove that there is a five year housing land supply has to be addressed otherwise it is inevitable that inappropriate developments will be approved on appeal, probably without the community benefit that should accrue in such cases.  We therefore support a planned approach to further growth and the preparation of a policy to accomplish this in the period up to the point at which the revised core strategy can be expected to deliver whatever number of new homes are then deemed to be required.

 

Whilst the Horsham Society is primarily concerned with Horsham town it is inevitable that the resolution of strategic issues such as this will impact on the town.  We have made it clear that we believe that Horsham has now grown to a size beyond which it would lose its identity and character.  We are conscious that other communities feel the same which is why for some years we have advocated the development of a new town.  However this will inevitably take many years to deliver and will not help the present situation.

 

The adopted core strategy determined that the bulk of new housing in the period up to 2018 would be provided by the West of Horsham development but it clearly signalled (para 3.9) that Southwater and Billingshurst may need to accept further change depending on the scale of future development that may be required.  It is therefore reasonable in the present circumstances, and consistent with the adopted core strategy, that the Interim Statement should seek to identify opportunities for additional development in these locations.

 

Turning to the draft, for the reasons outlined above option one: unplanned growth would result in the worst of all worlds and should be rejected.

 

Of the other two options, option three is preferable as it would secure the situation until 2018, allowing time for the review and adoption of a new core strategy.  It would also provide the maximum level of community benefits.

 

The Society is concerned however about the implications of the comment on page 10 of the Interim Statement to the effect that if option 2 were to be pursued Southwater and Billingshurst would also need to be reconsidered as part of the work on the core strategy review.  This suggests that were option 3 to be chosen further development in these settlements would not be pursued in the period up to 2026.  This could have grave implications for Horsham as, in the absence of other proposals,  it would leave only the two strategic site options north of the A264, the one to the west of Ifield, and possibly a new town to meet any further requirement for new homes up to 2026.

 

We would find this position unacceptable, not least because we have always opposed any development north of the A264 and this policy is currently explicit in the adopted core strategy (para 3.8):  “ we wish to protect the setting of the town, with its close relationship to the adjoining countryside, to the east and south, and to contain the built area within the A264 northern bypass, in order to avoid issues of lack of integration or ‘detachment’ from any existing community”.

 

We therefore ask that this issue be clarified in the final document to provide assurance that the remainder of the core strategy review will be conducted in ways which ensure that a sufficient number of viable strategic options are considered so that development north of the A264, or elsewhere immediately adjacent to Horsham,  does not become a fait accompli.

 

A copy goes to Cllr David Jenkins.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

John Steele

Secretary, Planning Sub Committee