Horsham’s local plan has been rubber stamped by the planning inspector and could be formally adopted in November.
Horsham District Council’s planning framework includes at least 2,500 homes and a business park north of the A264, around 600 homes west of Southwater, and 150 dwellings south of Billingshurst.
Examination hearings into the plan were first held in November last year, but an initial report released just before Christmas told the council to up its housing target from 650 homes to 750 a year.
The hearings resumed in July after the plan was modified by HDC. The target has been increased to 16,000 up to 2031, or 800 a year.
The report’s summary says: “This report concludes that the Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF - the plan) provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the district providing a number of modifications are made to the plan.
“Horsham District Council has specifically requested me to recommend any modifications necessary to enable the plan to be adopted.”
It says that the modifications ‘do not constitute a significant change to the main thrust of the submitted plan and are not so extensive as to constitute a complete re-write of the originally submitted version of the framework’.
But Geoff Salter has said that the plan should be subject to an early review to identify areas of housing needed to meet the increasing housing requirement of 800 homes per annum.
Although the North Horsham scheme has proved the most controversial element of the plan, Mr Salter concluded that the overall strategy of concentrating growth on the three main settlements in the district, Horsham, Southwater and Billingshurst, was sound.
The report reads: “The distance between the new [North Horsham] development and the western edge of Crawley would be reduced from about 3.5km to 3km but would be sufficient for the separate identities of both towns to be retained.”
Mr Salter added: “In conclusion, the allocation offers the opportunity to provide necessary housing, business development and community facilities at a sustainable location.
“Overall, the housing and employment benefits of the proposed allocation would significantly outweigh the disadvantages of the environmental impacts, which in my view would not be unacceptably severe.”
On housing numbers he said he ‘remained unconvinced’ of any considerable overlap between the North West Sussex Housing Market Area and that of coastal authorities to the south.
He said that sites west of Ifield, west of Southwater, and east of Billingshurst have the ‘potential to meet requirements towards the end of the plan period’.
On plans for a new 10,000-home settlement between Henfield and Sayers Common put forward by Mayfield Market Towns Mr Salter said it would be ‘premature to rule out in principle any potential for a new settlement to meet future needs’, but raised concerns about the site being put forward and its distance from railway services and the strategic road network.
He explained: “This need not be at the suggested location for the MMT or possibly some further work might overcome the disadvantages of the Mayfield proposal in relation to access by public transport, among other matters.”
More to follow.
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