LETTER: Discovery of crucial report

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Your readers will be rightly concerned to learn that the Inspector emailed on 24 November (through his Programme Officer) participants in the planning Enquiry in Public into North Horsham (EiP) stating that a very important report has only just been discovered in his boxes of papers. This is the full Peter Brett Associates (PBA) Report (Commissioned by Liberty USA) about Transport, Infrastructure and Flood Risk.

It is highly material to North Horsham but is a document that the Enquiry was not able to consider, nor residents to scrutinise. It seems it was also to be found on the council website in a link on lines 174/5 of an Excel spreadsheet that nobody found.

The Officer states: “The Inspector’s copy was delivered to the programme office in a very large file on the morning of the first session 4 November 2014 which he did not open at the time. Unfortunately, the file was overlooked during the hearings and was rediscovered as all the papers were being packed up after the last hearing session.

Although both files have been available for some time, bearing in mind the confusion about the reports, which the inspector did not look at during the period of the hearing sessions, any participants for Matter 7 who wish to make written comments on both/ either report will be able to do so in the interests of fairness and openness, provided they are submitted by 1500 hours on Monday 8 December 15:00. The Inspector will take any such comments into account in considering his conclusions about the soundness of the HDPF.”

The PBA Reports are the two studies conducted on the flood risks, infrastructure and traffic implications for Horsham (especially the A264 and its feeder roads) if the hare-brained scheme championed by leader Cllr Dawe and his deputy Cllr Croft, top planning councillor Claire Vickers and Cllr Jim Rae goes ahead on the 800 acres of greenfield currently forming a protected Strategic Gap between Horsham and Crawley.

All councillors were invited to read this study for a limited period and in secret and despite residents asking for its release to the public it never was and it was kept firmly under lock and key.

I even referred to the documents at the EiP, but nobody at the council or Liberty thought to point out to me or the Inspector at the time where we could find the document – buried under a forest of trees-worth of paper. Well I’d rather they don’t fell our trees thank you.

Cllr Croft is the cabinet member for communications. But under her watch at HDC there appears to be a ‘need to know’ policy when it comes to sharing information with the public on matters of that the ruling cabinet cabal wanted to push through or bury.

This is against the spirit of the statutory duty to consult the community under the Statement of Community Involvement, a document from which the cabinet deleted the clause involving the public in 2013 when Cllr Vickers took the Planning Advisory Group meetings (SPAG) into secret excluding the community once and for all.

Cllr Christian Mitchell even asked questions about the PBA traffic report in the cabinet meeting held in public on 23 April 2014 (but was punished for it afterwards when he was stripped of his role as chairman of licensing committee on top of being stripped of the chairmanship of council).

The secrecy at HDC and now the ‘discovery’ by the Inspector of this very large PBA Report raises fears amongst residents and somewhat confirms what has been going on.

Traffic congestion not only on the A24 and A264 but also on feeder roads into Horsham and the small windey lanes we love so much is going to get much worse if this flawed plan is approved.

Thousands of cars, vans and lorries will be backed up by the new traffic light systems and pedestrian crossings on the A264 – presumably with lollipop ladies and gentlemen at school time.

One of the reports tells us on p72 what we already know, that “The site area is crossed by the Chennells Brook... [which is] flashy and responds quickly to heavy rainfall events due to underlying impermeable Weald Clay and steep topography….The Environment Agency has advised that they have no detailed flood risk information or modelling of the Chennells Brook”. The document itself tells us that the plan is unsustainable.

Residents now have an opportunity to respond to PBA Report within the next two weeks now that it has been released to the public.

If anyone would like to see the documents (I’d forgive you if you can’t find them) go to www.savingnorthhorsham.co.uk and follow the links there.

JONATHAN DANCER

Avebury Close, Horsham