David Moore: Can anything go wrong? Of course it can!

Horsham Society
Horsham Society

The countdown has started and we have just over five weeks left to comment on the Horsham District Planning Framework Proposed Submission. Obviously, there’s a lot to read but we need to ensure that our representations are meaningful.

This means that if we object to the proposed document we have to show the Planning Inspector that it doesn’t satisfactorily answer one or more of the following questions.

Is it positively prepared, is it justified, is it effective and / or is it consistent with national policy.

There’s no point in simply objecting on the basis of, ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea or why not build somewhere else’.

We will need to show why the document is flawed and not fit for purpose and set in motion the work needed to produce a sensible Framework to cover the next five years until a decision is reached in 2015 on whether or not to build a second runway at Gatwick airport.

Then a sensible plan for the next 20 years can be prepared, which may include a new town.

So is there anything to worry about at the moment? If the document is that badly flawed and the representations made to the Planning Inspector are sensible, surely we can expect the current document to be rejected in whole or in part, can’t we?

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as that. We have to accept that at any time a planning application could be submitted to build north of Horsham.

What would happen if or perhaps when this occurs? The first part of the answer is very simple.

The council will be obliged to consider the application. Fortunately for us any such application with respect to a north of Horsham development will have to be considered in accordance with the existing Core Strategy from 2007.

This is made absolutely clear in the current guidance that accompanies the National Planning Policy Framework.

So if such an application were ever submitted, could we expect it to be resisted by HDC as being contrary to the policies set out in the current Core Strategy?

Unfortunately, even though we’ve asked the council this question, we’ve had no assurance that it would happen.

If such an the application was approved by the council, a silly situation would arise where approval was given for something contained within the Horsham District Planning Framework Proposed Submission, which was to be the subject of an examination by an Inspector at a later date.

If, when all the representations made during the six week consultation period showed that the plan was flawed, the consultation would have been a waste of time.

The damage would have been done and there’d be no going back.

It’s very important to ensure that this situation doesn’t arise and we have to expect that Horsham District Council will also realise that it cannot allow this to happen.

It should not be within the gift of the council to decide on this very important question.

Local democracy has to be allowed to run its course and all of us, both the public and the council, have to be prepared to allow a Planning Inspector to make the final decision on the totality of the Horsham District Planning Framework Proposed Submission.

We may not like the answers but it’s how the system is supposed to work.

The Horsham Society is concerned about the past, present and future of the town. It seeks to promote good planning and design for the built environment and open spaces. Membership of the Horsham Society is open to anyone, who shares these concerns.

For more information, visit our website www.horshamsociety.org or telephone 01403 261640.