One of the problems with local authority consultations is the vast amount of documents that contribute to yet are hidden behind the document, on which the public is being asked to express its views.
This was true of the Horsham District Planning Framework Proposed Submission, which was open for consultation until the 27th June 2014.
The consultation is now closed, our responses will be collated and considered and the final decision as to whether to accept, amend or reject the Proposed Submission will be made by a Planning Inspector later in the year.
There’s going to be a huge amount of information for the Planning Inspector to plough through and on top of all this will be the comments, perhaps as many as 3,000, made by members of the public and other interested parties.
As far as the comments are concerned, we all know the difficulties that we faced in making sensible responses due to the restricted number of words we could use when faced with an array of reports containing hundreds of thousands of words.
One of the problems that he will face is whether he fully understands what’s wrong with the proposed Submission from our truncated comments.
The other problem that he will face is the same as the one that’s confronted all of us before, during and after the consultation, namely the important but missing information.
Too many of the consultants’ reports seem to be based on, ‘information provided to us by the Council’ but nowhere does it tell us what that information was.
It’s impossible to judge the validity of these reports because we don’t know the starting point and one might conclude that the detail was put together after the event to support the conclusion.
This suspicion is possibly unfounded but without knowing the starting point for the consultants, it’s an obvious conclusion that some people will reach.
It would be so easy for Horsham District Council to give us the missing information but nothing has been forthcoming.
Surely, this shouldn’t be allowed to become yet another issue in front to the Planning Inspector?
Why not give it to us now before the inquiry and remove all of the suspicion?
Finally, we have the black hole that opened beneath our feet, when West Sussex County Council showed the shortfall in money, about £14 million, from the West of Horsham development, related to the necessary infrastructure costs associated with a ‘strategic’ site.
If this wasn’t bad enough, it would appear that the same problem awaits us from today’s proposed ‘strategic’ site north of Horsham, where, without even trying, the council proposes to give away at least £12 million of money that should be available for essential infrastructure needs.
So don’t let’s wait for this sort of problem to bite us in the bum in a few years’ time.
If the proposed north of Horsham development is viable, let’s see the proof.
It’s been suggested recently by the council that the CIL money is not the be all and end all and there’s plenty of money to come from other sources.
Let’s see those other sources of finance and let’s see the money that each source will be guaranteed to generate.
Don’t let’s have another West of Horsham financial disaster waiting to happen just because we get the sums wrong.
Act now before it’s too late.
The Horsham Society is concerned about the past, present and future of the town. It seeks to promote good planning and design for the built environment and open spaces.
Membership of the Horsham Society is open to anyone, who shares these concerns.
For more information, visit our website www.horshamsociety.org or telephone 01403 261640.