LETTER: Case highlights planning difficulty

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I was greatly disappointed to read the comments attributed to my fellow councillor Christian Mitchell in last week’s County Times.

The information contained in the headline and accompanying story in the paper are totally erroneous.

The true facts of the case are that one of the council’s two planning committees turned down an application for a new housing scheme in Henfield. The developers then took the council to appeal and won.

The council sought legal advice and was told that it had a strong case to challenge that decision in the High Court. The total cost to the council for making that challenge was £16,823.

This is nothing like the £300,000 figure given by Cllr Mitchell and mentioned in the headline and article.

Apart from the gross error in the costs quoted on this occasion, the case highlights how difficult it is for any council to successfully defend a planning application from a developer in the absence of an adopted local plan.

Horsham District Council is now very close to having such an adopted plan, however should this fall at the final hurdle and not go ahead, as some councillors have urged, the facts in such circumstances are totally clear.

It would not stop planning applications coming forward, in particular one for land North of Horsham and the council would be in an incredibly weak position if it tried to stop it. The cost of the inevitable appeal to both the council and to the taxpayer would certainly make the figures quoted in this newspaper last week pale into insignificance!

CLAIRE VICKERS

(Con, Southwater) Cabinet Member for Planning and Development, Horsham District Council, Chart Way, Horsham

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