LETTER: Failure to act over worsening crisis

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In last week’s West Sussex County Times Simon Greenwood did an excellent job of highlighting the serious economic consequences of a failure to provide affordable housing in our rural areas (Special Report - ‘We need more homes in our great county’).

Horsham Labour Party has emphasised for some time the need for homes that local people can afford both in our rural areas and in our towns. We have repeatedly called upon Horsham council to deliver these homes. Awareness of the true nature of the housing crisis is growing and yet Horsham District Council persistently refuses to address the problem.

Horsham council claims that there is little they can to do to provide affordable homes at a rate that would meet demand.

In contrast, councils throughout the country are prioritising the delivery of affordable housing and are reviewing all possible options that would enable them to ensure that those in need of a home they can afford, can obtain one.

Councils are starting to build again or working in partnership with housing associations to get things moving and to address local demand.

Here in Horsham our councillors pay lip-service to their affordable housing obligations. As a result we see a few affordable homes delivered annually at a pace that fails to acknowledge the worsening crisis. At the same time we see publicly owned land being sold off to developers who deliver overpriced retirement homes and executive housing that is not wanted or needed locally.

Amongst the excuses given for not acting proactively to provide homes for local people is the claim that there are insufficient brown field sites on which appropriate housing could be built. Horsham Labour Party have identified a site that we believe would provide the council with a perfect opportunity to use some of its deferred section 106 funding to build affordable rented housing.

The site opposite the Queen’s Head pub on Queen Street has been allowed to fall into a derelict state over many years. The council has only once shown any interest in dealing with this eyesore.

This was when a planning application was submitted to develop the site as a convenience store, rumours had it that Tesco were interested. A local campaign successfully opposed this development which would have seriously affected the livelihood of the owners of the Londis business right next door, a business which had served the community for many years. The road layout in this part of Horsham was also not conducive to such a development.

Since then the site has decayed further; as it evidently has no commercial value, it is time that the council took action. The site should be compulsorily purchased and developed to provide much need affordable housing.

It’s time that the council demonstrated that it puts the interests of the residents of Horsham before the profits of developers and took appropriate action on this site.

DAVID HIDE

Chair, Horsham Labour Party, Clarence Road, Horsham