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 Planning: strategic issues

October 2015

Horsham District Planning Framework

After a shambolic catalogue of false starts and U turns HDC finally submitted its Proposed Strategy which was considered by a Planning Inspector in public examination in November 2014.  On 19th December he published his Initial Findings (see below). Whilst he accepted the Council’s case for the North Horsham Strategic site for a business park and 2,500 homes, he instructed the Council to identify sites for at least 2,000 additional homes. He suspended his hearing for six months to allow the Council to do this and to consult on its proposals. This was a major, but unsurprising, blow for the Council. The Society’s initial response can be found below.

In March 2015 the Council approved its proposed Main Modifications to the Planning Framework which was subject to a further period of consultation before being forwarded to the Inspector. What the Council proposed was a re-hash of its original plan with only one new site for 150 homes south of Southwater, which failed its own definition of a strategic site. The rest relied on smoke and mirrors adjustments to previous figures and a new, and wholly unacceptable, insertion of the word “around” before them all. The North Horsham strategic site, originally intended to provide 2,500 homes will now provide “around 2,500”, with “around” being defined as plus or minus 10%. In other words the figure will now be at least 2,750. Not only was this approach misleading, in our view it still failed to explain convincingly how the Inspector’s target will be met.

The Inspector re-opened his examination on 3 July 2015, following which he wrote to the Council to say he was increasing the district;s planning target from the Council’s last offer of 750 homes a year to 800. This represents a rejection of the Council’s flawed approach to strategic planning and is probably 50-100 homes a year (or 1,000 - 2,000 over the 20 year life of the plan) more than we would have had to accommodate had the HDC done its job properly. Furthermore, it is exactly what the Society predicted would happen.

Had HDC last year set what, at that stage, would have been a more realistic target of 700 homes a year, instead of 650, the Inspector would quite possibly have accepted it and confirmed the Framework before Christmas 2014. Instead, the Council must now review the Framework within the next three years to determine where an extra 1000 homes will be built.
 

Planning Inspector’s initial findings 19 December 2014»
Comments following receipt of the Planning Inspector’s initial findings»

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