LETTER: Permission for 7,000 homes

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Is the housing market beginning to slow down already?

Recent press report (‘Speculative investors head for exit in Nine Elms development’ Financial Times, 10.7.15) about Britain’s biggest housing development area, ‘Nine Elms in London, is seeing a wave of ‘flat-flipping’ as investors try to sell un-built properties amid fears the capital faces a glut of expensive homes. House prices in London’s most expensive areas fell in the second quarter of this year for the first time in more than half a decade recent research for the Financial Times by data provider LonRes found’.

At the same time, developers have embarked on a building boom. More than a decade’s worth of high-priced homes are being built across the capital.

Liberty and other developers don’t want to build affordable homes – they want the expensive homes to maximise their profits.

Surely this raises serious questions about the economic sense of developers’ tactics at the public inquiry held on July 3 - pressing the inspector for more, more, more?

What happens when interest rates do rise as surely they will? The inspector’s figure of 750 homes per year to 2031 is beginning to look suspect particularly since the evidence for 650pa is missing when HDC never reached more than 450pa even in the boom times.

Cllrs Vickers, Dawe, Cornell and Lee have sought to frighten us about the ‘five year land supply’ – leaving the door open for developers to build where they fancy - they say.

But the five-year land supply is about what is deliverable – how many houses actually have planning permission to be built in Horsham District within five years? At the public inquiry on July 3 HDC’s Strategic Planning Officer Ms Julia Dawe said that 7,000 houses have got planning permission - but building has not started!

This figure has not been made public before. So what is the evidence that supports the doom scenario Cllrs Dawe and Vickers keep using as the likely punishment for all of us if this Liberty project does not go ahead?

Where are these 7,000 not-started houses and why are developers pushing for more, more, more when they have all these still to build? This number of un-built houses can easily absorb the backlog to 2011.

Later in the afternoon when the HDC recording of the hearing failed (surprise, surprise) – meaning we can’t listen again to the proceedings, Liberty’s MD Mr Blevins was subjected to an onslaught by developers and their expensive barristers sitting across from him.

Their case was that Liberty could not in the time to 2031 (allowing that with such extensive ground works necessary house building couldn’t start until 2017-218) meet the target of 2,750 houses.

They reminded him that nearly half the HDC council had voted against North Horsham on 24 June and that 19 of these councillors make up the majority on Planning Development North.

The traffic issue is a huge weakness in the project which the inspector again ignored, the North Horsham community is hostile as evidenced in the petition and the press, the goings on in the council will all be exposed by a Judicial Review which will delay progress – and Mr Blevins still hasn’t submitted Liberty’s planning application which in November 2014 he said would be lodged in February 2015.

Then Chancellor George Osborne MP in his Budget wants to boost the ‘attractiveness of brownfield sites’.

Funny, that has always been a top priority of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) - but I never heard the inspector at any of the hearings I attended question anybody about the potential for development on brownfield sites.

Dr GEOFFREY RICHARDSON

Tennyson Close, Horsham

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