So Inspector Salter has written to Horsham District Council (HDC) stating that he wants to put up the numbers of houses to be built in Horsham District from his figure last November of 750 pa to 800 pa.
Cllr Vickers isn’t going to ask him the reasons and evidence for such an increase nor even to justify his autumn increase from 650pa to 750 pa. I understand though the recording of the afternoon session of July 3 has been lost that Mr Salter, after listening endlessly to the subjective utterances of the developers, appeared to come to an agreement with them that 800 was a figure he could recommend. But there was no evidence or reasoning – and no real chance for HDC officers and resident representatives to engage. It all was cut and dried.
So where does this leave Horsham residents? Cllrs Dawe and Vickers will no doubt roll over as they have done all along – terrified of challenging the Inspectorate – anything to get the plan approved even if it is the wrong plan. The Inspector will send in his lengthy, costly report, probably by the end of August, justifying everything he has done – then retire, with the Horsham we all love in a trail of debris behind him.
Cllrs Dawe and Vickers, backed by their self-serving ‘yea’ saying Cabinet colleagues such as Cllr Cornell (who was one of only two Town members to support this plan and now duly promoted to replace Cllr Baldwin who was effectively sacked in public), will now take the HDPF agreed with the Inspector to a meeting of the Council.
They will do this as soon as they can in the autumn. In the meantime Liberty will put their long-awaited planning application in for North Horsham and this will go to Development North – to be scrutinised by councillors from the north.
Of course of the 19 who voted against the plan – some 18 sit on the Northern planning committee.
There are then six weeks to put HDC’s housing and economic plan (HDPF) and the Council’s processes and procedures before a judge to challenge the lawfulness of the Council’s decisions and how these were made. The list of failures by the Council is long and well documented in this newspaper over the past two years. If the judge agrees with the residents then Cllr Vickers’ and Dawe’s unwanted scheme will be held to be unlawful.
If we had real leaders in our Council with courage and vision, we would never have got into this situation. They would have shown steel in defending all residents in the District – challenging the Inspector.
They would have looked for solutions that didn’t put northern wards against southern wards – Cllr Dawe’s legacy. They wouldn’t have sold Horsham’s soul to Liberty.
I don’t think Cllr Dawe would know where to begin, but he could even at this stage stop this juggernaut heading downhill to a Judicial Review and try to get an agreed compromise on house distribution in the District.
There was a second option put to Council which he and the Cabinet cabal saw off. Houses are needed throughout the whole District in large and small communities. The inspector had no interest in brownfield sites which the government has now raised to the top of the agenda again.
Small local builders will take these on and how much better for the economy of the District. Yet we have never been told (despite asking) how many brownfield sites there are and where they are.
Crushing all the housing into the north and north-western part of the District will have massive negative implications for residents throughout Horsham District.
ELIZABETH BARTNOVSKAYA (Mrs)
Heath Way, Horsham
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