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 Planning: strategic issues

December 2014 

Comments by the Horsham Society following receipt of the Planning Inspector’s initial findings on the HDPF on the 19th December 2014

We are of course disappointed with the outcome of the HDPF Examination, particularly the Planning Inspector’s endorsement of the North Horsham Strategic Site, but we have to accept that he has made his decision having considered all the evidence. What we now have to do is to ensure that we get the best possible outcome and ensure that all the necessary infrastructure is put in place at an early stage whilst at the same time ensuring that the required amount of affordable housing is delivered.

However, we are not surprised that he has also told HDC that it must find room for a further 2,000 homes. All along the Council has sought to plan for the minimum number of new homes it thought it could get away with and during the public examination it was unable to provide a coherent explanation for its strategy or numbers.

This is a damning indictment of the current administration’s competence and now within a matter of a few months it must identify new sites. Furthermore, a combination of the Council’s own approach within the HDPF and the Inspector’s adjudication leave it few if any options.

Given the Inspector’s endorsement of the North Horsham plan, including his comment that it is the best location for the business park, his agreement with the Council that neither spreading development around the District or a new town are appropriate solutions, and his endorsement of the Council’s settlement hierarchy – Horsham first, then Southwater and Billingshurst – it means that the only viable options that would make the plan sound are Southwater and Billingshurst.

The irony, which will not be lost on residents, is that, as there is little science in housing numbers, had the Council pitched its offer at a more realistic but still relatively modest number the Planning Inspector might have let it through.

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