LETTER: Standing up for the electorate

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The unelected Planning Inspectorate, whose decision, despite the pretence of ‘localism’, over-rides any views of far more knowledgeable local people.

It continues to permit indiscriminate development on greenfield, productive agricultural land. This is because many Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) cannot meet the unrealistic and unattainable 20year housing targets demanded by this Government, often leading to overloading of infrastructure, increased air pollution and flooding and of course the destruction of our beautiful countryside.

In an attempt to minimise such blight, one of our local councillors (Roger Arthur) has engaged with the Planning Minister, the Local Government Association and now with a Commons Select Committee, urging that LPAs should be allowed to adjust or qualify the arbitrary targets, based on experience and on what is reasonable.

It was therefore completely inexplicable in the Horsham District Council meeting on 30th April, chaired by Councillor Circus, that the ruling group agreed on a totally unachievable 20-year target of 650 new dwellings per annum across Horsham District, when HD had averaged only 450pa, in the eight years leading up to the recession.

They included that target without qualification, knowing that it would leave the District open to further speculative and indiscriminate development. Presumably they did not want to be seen to be in conflict with their own Planning Minister.

It is now equally inexplicable that Councillor Circus should belatedly highlight the impact of ‘unsustainable growth’ on the local infrastructure, including doctors’ surgeries, when he passively accepted the 20 year target of 650 pa and his own MPs can do nothing to get the policy reconsidered.

Storrington had inadequate surgery capacity and traffic air pollution, before issues came to a head at the Millstream Surgery and the addition of a further 1,500 residents from new developments, will only exacerbate the problem.

So instead of wringing hands, it might have been better if Mr Circus and the HDC ruling group had not acquiesced at the impossible target of 650 pa but had tried to get the unelected PIanning Inspector to see reason, by qualifying the target in the Plan.

If local councillors and MPs can’t get their own minister to see reason, then what hope is there for the rest of us?

Instead of standing up for those that elected them, and pay their wages, they have, predictably, simply rolled over.

TRICIA WALES

North End Road, Yapton