‘Vehement’ objection to plan for 550 new homes

A NINETEEN page ‘vehement objection’ to plans to build up to 550 homes east of the village has been put together by Billingshurst Parish Council.

The letter concludes Horsham District Council accepted, when it adopted the Core Strategy, the expansion of Billingshurst ‘was not justified’ in the plan period to 2018 and ‘endorsed a spatial strategy based on the expansion of Horsham and Crawley to achieve the most sustainable pattern of growth’.

“The principles of both sustainable development and the spatial strategy remain just as relevant today,” the parish council said.

“Even in the face of the slow pace of development in the strategic locations, HDC should continue to apply these principles to the control of development. In doing so it should refuse planning permission for the eastward expansion of Billingshurst.

“In the event that there continues to be a shortfall in the five-year supply of deliverable housing land in the short term, then it should not look beyond sites much closer to Horsham and Crawley.”

This should be where:

l Journeys to work, school and community facilities can be contained within the close hinterland of these main towns

l A far greater per centage of journeys can be served by public transport than at Billingshurst

l The limited availability of public funds (and developer contributions) can be focused on investments that serve a far greater proportion of the district’s population than would be the case in Billingshurst.

l The landscape character of development sites are much less intimate and vulnerable to harm from development.

“In any event, the application fails to give any convincing assurances that its impact on local transportation, utility and community infrastructure can be adequately mitigated,” the council said. A lack of details of a credible investment programme and government funding available for additional community infrastructure was ‘a fundamental omission’.

“Billingshurst Parish Council has embraced the government’s shift in power for local planning; it has always fully participated in strategic planning consultations and will continue to do so,” the letter states.

“The parish council urges Horsham District Council to embrace the Localism Agenda and recognise the strong local feelings and take this into account in determination of this application.

“Horsham District Council should oppose this application, reaffirm its support for the development of land at the strategic locations west of Horsham and Crawley and intervene to address the obstacles to house building at an accelerated pace at these sites.”

Issues of concern highlighted included the fact any five-year housing land supply shortfall was a ‘district wide problem, which should be handled with a district wide solution’.

“Yet for the parish of Billingshurst, it is being expected to accept more than its fair share of the district’s development.”

Land was already included in the application for a three form primary school to serve a potential 3,000 houses and ‘this scale of development would seriously undermine the character and landscape setting of Billingshurst, by almost doubling the size of the village’.

Employment opportunities in the village were not planned to grow at a ‘pace to match’ the number of employable adults already and 500 houses would only ‘swell the number of out-commuters adding yet further pressure on the local road network’, leading to safety problems.

The village is at the ‘tipping points for waste water treatment water supply and primary and secondary school places for 500 homes’, recognised by the district council.

Hospitals were at least 30km away, with ‘significant reliance’ on the ambulance service and community responders and there was a part-time retained fire crew.

The viability of the shopping centre was already under ‘serious threat’ from lack of ‘depth of offer’, parking and community transport.

The parish council said it ‘will not consider future development in the parish without being in possession of the full facts and figures on infrastructure provision to make an informed decision’.

“It is unreasonable to ask the local community to accept a development which clearly will put considerable strain on transportation, utilities and other community infrastructure without there being any certainty about the ability of the developers, utility companies or public agencies to fund the necessary investment programme,” the letter said.

For the full objection go to www.billingshurst.gov.uk

l Inspector allows 150 homes, page 27