LETTER: Planning decisions were political

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Local resident Paul Kornycky has shown through his tenacious research (WSCT letters 27/11/14) that the financial contributions (called CIL money) that would be made by Liberty (the developer for the proposed North Horsham development) for community-improvements will now be zero.

Residents should not have to do this amount of digging to get to the facts but the leadership at HDC under Cllrs Dawe and Croft are adept at keeping information from the public.

If the development goes ahead, Liberty (USA) is going to have to spend £12.5m on the 800 acre site mitigating the ‘abnormal’ characteristics of the site in the form of reducing flood risk and utilities infrastructure upgrade. But then they will have to find another £52.5m predominantly for road improvements, schools and the railway station on the site.

As a result there will be nothing left in the developer’s funds (Liberty claims) for the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). CIL money would be paid direct to HDC and can be spent by the council on district-wide infrastructure that is not directly related to the development. This could include transport (including buses), education, health, sport and leisure, fire and rescue and utilities.

But this refusal by Liberty to pay any CIL money to HDC is after the council had already agreed with Liberty that its CIL contribution would be based on only £50m sq. compared with £125 m sq. that HDC requires from other developers on other district development sites.

Is this a special deal because the whole North Horsham project is so financially unsound that HDC have had to give this American company a huge subsidy/sweetner to tempt them to take on this development?

So the mitigation costs for North Horsham if it were to go ahead, are so high, that the developer (Liberty) will contribute nothing to the wider infrastructure of the district through CIL monies.

Well why was North Horsham chosen by Councillors? Other strategic sites such as Southwater appear to have the advantage of a district-wide infrastructure contribution via CIL. But Southwater was discarded by HDC. At the Inspection, the Inspector said all planning matters were political. I could hardly believe he said that. It certainly was a political decision in Horsham (as the former Chief Executive said in his evidence to the public enquiry) when Cllr Vickers took her committee into secret sessions and moved the strategic site from her patch in Southwater to North Horsham.

Nick Webber

Rusper Road, Littlehaven