Alternative to council’s ‘flawed’ housing strategy published

Pictured left to right: Leonard Crosbie, Malcolm Curnock, Frances Haigh, Godfrey Newman and David Skipp
Pictured left to right: Leonard Crosbie, Malcolm Curnock, Frances Haigh, Godfrey Newman and David Skipp

’Dismayed’ by the council’s ‘undemocratic’ housing proposals seven councillors have put together their own alternative strategy this week.

Horsham District Council published its draft preferred housing strategy in August 2013, which included proposals for 2,500 homes and a new business park north of Horsham, but the majority of respondents criticised the document for only including one option.

The group of councillors, who are all Lib Dems, argue that plans were drawn up ‘without reference to the local people and local businesses’ and are ‘flawed due to the undemocratic process’.

While their strategy accepts the number of houses put forward by HDC, it seeks to spread development more evenly throughout the district, not just in Horsham.

Over the 20-year plan period Horsham would take 1,500 homes, small towns and larger villages 500 each, medium villages 100, smaller villages 40, and unclassified settlements 20 each.

Frances Haigh (LDem, Horsham Park) said: “We are not disputing housing in Horsham, but we think it should be in the town so it won’t destroy its unique character.”

Malcolm Curnock (LDem, Broadbridge Heath) added: “We need a fair distribution to keep Horsham as it is within its boundaries.”

Their aim is for a more flexible rolling list of smaller housing sites, which without the huge amount of infrastructure needed, could be delivered quicker than larger strategic sites.

Then if a second runway was approved at Gatwick Airport all authorities would have to put their heads together and agree a new way forward.

On HDC’s current position Leonard Crosbie (LDem, Trafalgar) said: “Many of our colleagues on the council feel they are mandated by their local residents to refuse development in their wards.”

David Skipp (LDem, Roffey North) added: “We are part of the same district and everyone is responsible and everyone has to take the pain and we all have to take it, not just Horsham.”

He continued: “This is a proper thought out option put together without officer time and help and I think we deserve to have this taken seriously by all members and the planners and we hope they will not just chop it down and not consider it viable.”

Mr Curnock added: “What we are trying to do is ensure that people across the district have choices in what they take forward in their communities.”

The alternative strategy was also endorsed by councillors David Sheldon, Christine Costin, and Godfrey Newman.

To read the strategy document in full click here.

What do you think of the strategy? Comment below or email the newsdesk