LETTER: Massive urban extension to town

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For those of us extremely concerned about the lack of environmental considerations that have been given to the monstrous plan to despoil 800 acres of green land north of the A264, which is protected in a Strategic Gap policy, it was interesting to read the submission to Horsham District Council’s consultation by the Sussex Wildlife Trust.

One of their responses (Pro Sub No 2945) to Policy SD1: Strategic Policy - Land North of Horsham (by Laura Brook, ID 59449) rejected the policy on the grounds that it would not work, was too negative and is not consistent with national policy.

I wonder if Sussex Wildlife Trust realises that they are recorded as ‘supporting’ this Policy. It really doesn’t give us confidence in the ethical standards of HDC in analysing the data for transmission to the Inspector.

Those that share the environmental concerns might be interested in a couple of points the Sussex Wildlife Trust make, which I am in total sympathy with:

‘An allocation of this size should, within the overarching policy, acknowledge that it will need to deliver biodiversity gains as well as contribute towards a coherent ecological network, in order to conform better to spatial objective 11 of the Framework: ‘To safeguard and enhance the environmental quality of the District, ensuring that development maximises opportunities for biodiversity and minimises the impact on environmental quality including air, soil, water quality and the risk of flooding’ (section 3.14, p.14).

In addition, NPPF Guidance states: ‘The planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by: Minimising impacts on biodiversity and providing net gains in biodiversity where possible, contributing to the Government’s commitment to halt the overall decline in biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures.’ (Para 109) The Sussex Wildlife Trust is very concerned when allocations are made without any supporting ecological information to determine the suitability of a location. If for example a preliminary ecological appraisal had been carried out (sic: by HDC) for the allocation, then it would allow identification of key areas for protection, enhancement and management to be incorporated into the master plan and included in the policy. This would also ensure that the Horsham District Planning Framework had taken on board the NPPF Guidance.’

So, how on earth could leader Cllr Ray Dawe and his deputy leader Helena Croft (Roffey North) put forward a plan with such omissions relating to an issue they must have known would be of deep concern to Horsham District residents?

These environmental issues were documented in the Interim Sustainability Appraisal and indeed contributed to North Horsham being a non-preferred strategic option.

The history of this sorry saga for Cllr Vickers’ Housing Plan has been to ‘retrofit’ consultants’ reports to suit the political ambitions of southern Conservatives, i.e. to dump all the housing in the north; thus creating a massive urban extension to Horsham town, to ensure that all of the housing is kept well away from the ‘untouched Deep South’ (as Cllr Peter Burgess revealed in May).

G. D. CONSTABLE

The Castle, Horsham