LETTER: Assessment is seriously flawed

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The public Inquiry (EiP) is going to lift some large stones in examining quite how 30 years of Horsham District Council’s (HDC) planning policy (right up until cabinet member Cllr Ian Howard in September 2012) have promoted Southwater for expansion and then unexpectedly in June 2013 building in the Strategic Gap was promoted by Cllr Claire Vickers, leader Ray Dawe, his deputy leader Helena Croft and Jim Rae.

Those who are on the EiP mailing list will have received hyperlinks to the full representations of objections and supporters. Quite why these have not been posted on HDC’s website is inexplicable but Cllr Helena Croft, as cabinet member for communications, has clearly been less than diligent in this regard – and not for the first time – since the cabinet refused to hold any public meetings over their plan and put only one option out for public consultation.

On 11 and 12 November the Inspector will be considering North Horsham and Southwater. I note that Berkeley Homes have pointed out what residents, some brave councillors, and the Horsham Society have repeatedly pointed out – that the assessment of the strategic sites is fundamentally flawed. Berkeleys report is at:

https:/dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/82763028/Horsham%20DPF%20-%20Week%201%20Documents/REP-850118-001.pdf

They say: ‘The HDPF is not based on a sound SA (Sustainability Assessment). The representations on the pre-submission HDPF submitted by Terence O’Rourke (TOR) on behalf of Berkeley Strategic demonstrate why SA is not based on a sound process or methodology… the relative assessments of the 2,500 dwellings to the north of Horsham and the 2,250 dwellings to the west of Southwater are inconsistent in their appraisal methodology and judgement and hence flawed. These flaws primarily relate to how the Secondary School, employment and local centre components were differently assessed for each scheme. Since it is established case law (Heard-v-Broadland DC) that the assessment of alternative sites should be done on an equal and consistent basis, it is self-evident that the HDPF SA fails this test.’

It will be fascinating to watch Cllr Vickers and Helena Croft (who voted for North Horsham and presided over a political show trial in a failed attempt to gag Cllr Christian Mitchell into supporting it) explain themselves to the Inspector as to how and why the Cabinet’s Sustainability Assessment of the strategic sites is flawed which distorted the outcome meaning that the Cabinet were able to promote North Horsham over Southwater.

VALERIE WISE

Owlscastle Close, Horsham