Criticism is unjust and unwarranted

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In his letter (WSCT April 11), John Steele criticises Horsham District Council (HDC) for not imposing ‘a top down set of solutions unacceptable to its own councillors let alone the electorate’.

HDC rightly respected the wishes of the communities of Billingshurst and Southwater as determined through public consultation – by stepping back from imposing on them large-scale housing developments as an interim measure. His criticism is unjustified and unwarranted, as indeed is his implied criticism of those communities for daring to oppose inappropriate development.

Contrary to Mr Steele’s view, Horsham District is prey to developers because the deadline of 12 months imposed by the Government, which has now expired, was far too short a time in which to prepare and consult on a complex plan that will determine the future of our District and its communities.

It is the Government not the Council that is responsible for the District’s unprecedented vulnerability to inappropriate and damaging development. Should the Planning Inspectorate permit development that is contrary to the wishes of communities they would be in effect punishing the District – because, contrary to Mr Steele’s view, the deadline set for completion was woefully inadequate and unreasonable.

HDC, acting in concert with other local authorities, who are equally vulnerable, should ask the Government to allow them additional time to produce a sound and appropriate plan after proper public consultation. Failure to act now would be an unforgivable betrayal of trust.

Surely Horsham MP, the Rt Hon Francis Maude, who is a leading member of the Government, would champion their request and his constituents, if asked to do so?

Dr R F Smith

CPRE Sussex – Horsham District