I feel I must write in response to the letter, printed in the September 19 edition, under the heading ‘Recompense for appeal winners’ from Dudley Broster, Spinney Lane, West Chiltington.
The parish council fully supports the views expressed by Philip Circus, who incidentally is not chairman of the development control south committee, but is a district councillor representing West Chiltington as the Planning Inspector in this latest application has put a different interpretation on the Policy CP5 relating to development on Category 2 Settlements than two previous inspectors who have refused applications because they did not meet a local need.
The parish councillors, ‘these well-meaning souls’, as Mr Broster refers to them, far from not considering any change have been in the forefront of developing a strategy for meeting the housing needs of parishioners of West Chiltington by carrying out a Housing Needs Survey in 2008/9 and subsequently considering how these needs could be met.
The survey identified a number of needs:
Affordable homes for rent or shared equity.
Smaller easily managed properties with smaller gardens.
The respondents identified a number of things they did not want to see: more large houses, sub-division of existing plots.
The parish council in co-operation with the planning department of Horsham District Council identified three sites they considered suitable for development to meet the housing needs expressed.
Planning permission has been granted on two of the sites and one of these for seven dwellings is currently under construction with the second for nine bungalows expected to start early next year. A planning application for the 14 affordable homes for rent/shared equity is expected to be submitted next year.
A further application for three homes on a previous commercial site was approved by the parish and district council. In total this will mean 33 homes will be built to meet the housing needs of parishioners. It was previously accepted by planners and the parish council that single houses would be unlikely to meet the housing needs expressed in the survey.
The last applications from Mr Broster was in the opinion of Horsham District Council and the parish council contrary to Policy CP5 and the application was refused on those grounds, as have several applications from February 2007 for new dwellings.
Two of those applicants appealed the decision for refusal but were dismissed by a planning inspector as they failed to meet any local need so the decision by the planning inspector in this case to allow the appeal was hugely disappointing and perverse. The parish council is pleased that Horsham District Council has issued a challenge to this decision to The Planning Inspectorate.
If this decision is upheld it will have consequences, not just for West Chiltington, but for all the other Category 2 Settlements in Horsham District. Already two applications for new dwellings, previously refused, have been submitted and we expect more.
When Localism was announced local communities thought they would be given control of development in their parish and the parish council as their representatives would have a greater voice in the decisions but the inspector in this case has removed all local control. The parish councillors act without any sort of remuneration or recompense, giving up their time for the benefit of the community and it is a shame Mr Broster does not share this community spirit.
Clerk to West Chiltington Parish Council, The Parish Office, Church Street, West Chiltington