Council’s housing strategy described as being ‘defective’

JPCT-15-09-11 SC11380160a Southwater countryside,  between New Road and Southwater Primary School -photo by steve cobb
JPCT-15-09-11 SC11380160a Southwater countryside, between New Road and Southwater Primary School -photo by steve cobb
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The district council’s draft housing strategy was described by one Southwater parish councillor as ‘defective’ last week.

Horsham District Council’s public consultation on its draft preferred housing strategy, which contains provision for 2,500 homes and a new business park north of Horsham and 500 houses in both Southwater and Billingshurst, closes on Friday October 11.

Discussing Southwater Parish Council’s response to the consultation, councillors raised the impact of a possible second runway at Gatwick Airport, road infrastructure, affordable housing, and employment opportunities in the district.

The draft plan includes 11,500 homes to be built in the district over the next 20 years, including around 6,900 already granted planning permission.

Berkeley Homes has an application for 500 homes west of Worthing Road which it put in abeyance last year as it awaited the outcome of HDC’s new strategy.

Graham Watkins said: “There are so many items you can’t help but think it’s a defective document.”

David Nagy pointed out that two major Horsham employers Royal Sun Alliance and Novartis had shrunk their operations and were continuing to do so.

He added: “There is a danger the community as a whole is going to end up being a commuter belt.”

Pauline Flores-Moore said: “We are going to be a commuter town, but Horsham has always been a commuter town.”

Peter Buckley, chairman of the council, added: “If we get a second runway and it goes in at Gatwick this will be torn up and we will have to start again.”

On the issue of a secondary school for Southwater stopping children from the village being bussed into Horsham, Geoff Cole pointed out that the reverse would then be true with school children bussed into Southwater.

Mr Cole described the paragraphs on affordable housing as being ‘ad nauseam’ and said the report contradicted itself on the subject, with targets lowered from the current 40 per cent to 35 per cent.

He explained: “It’s as if we are looking at two different documents.”

Next week Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater), HDC’s cabinet member for living and working communities, will hold her second live Facebook chat, giving residents an opportunity to ask questions on housing It will be held on Tuesday October 8 from 6.30-7.30pm on HDC’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/horsham.district.council).

To participate in the consultation visit www.horsham.gov.uk

In a letter to the County Times this week Ian Thwaites, leader of campaign-group Keep Southwater Green has made several points on possible development in the village.