Council is ‘trodden on’ by housing developers over Southwater homes

JPCT 040312 Martindale Place housing development, Worthing Road, Southwater. Photo by Derek Martin

JPCT 040312 Martindale Place housing development, Worthing Road, Southwater. Photo by Derek Martin

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A parish has lambasted the council for allowing itself to be ‘trodden on’ by developers over planning enforcement on 44 new Southwater homes.

Barratt Homes had outline, but not full planning permission from Horsham District Council for 44 homes in Martindale Place when it started work on the site.

Southwater Parish Council are angry that action was not taken to halt work on-site, but HDC said that there would have been no justification in taking enforcement action.

It confirmed that a legal agreement has just been finalised, and Barratt had undertaken work in advance of receiving planning permission ‘at their own risk’.

During an SPC planning meeting on Wednesday February 27 parish councillors complained that since planning permission had not been fully agreed between Barratt and HDC, a stopping order for the site should have been implemented.

When the parish council alerted HDC about a possible breach of planning regulations it was told an agreement signing was ‘imminent’, but SPC claimed that it had been imminent for three months.

The parish council minutes read: “It was sad for the district council as the local planning authority to allow itself to be trodden on by developers.”

Other parish concerns included mud in Worthing Road and contractors parking in bus stops, but HDC said it had drawn the developer’s attention to problems and they would monitor the situation.

Barratt was granted outline permission in December 2011 and full planning permission in November 2012 subject to the signing of a legal agreement.

The site has been subject of applications from other developers, with schemes refused in 2004 and 2010.

John Fitzgerald, managing director for Barratt Southern Counties, said after plans were approved by HDC’s planning committee in November they had been in regular communication with council officers to finalise the legal agreement.

A spokesperson for HDC added: “The Section 106 agreement has now been finalised and signed and the planning decision notice will be issued within the next week.

“There were delays in finalising the agreement for a number of reasons which in turn has delayed the grant of planning permission. The developer started work on the site in advance of receiving the planning decision and all such work has been undertaken at their own risk.

“The National Planning Policy Framework requires any enforcement action to be proportionate to the breach of planning control. There would have been no justification for Horsham District Council taking enforcement action in this case as we had already decided that planning permission should be granted.”