Since my article in last week’s County Times, I have been asked to clarify what would happen if Horsham District Council changed its Preferred Strategy before finalising the document. The Draft Planning Strategy (including our proposed housing numbers) that we are putting forward will be fully tested by a Government inspector. The inspector’s examination of the strategy will be in public and submissions may be made by anyone.
The first thing will be an examination of the proposed 20 year housing number to test that we have given enough evidence to ‘prove’ the figure we are putting forward for the number of houses we shall need. Given that this is lower than the one allocated to us under the Labour Government’s South East plan, he will want to know our reasons. Then he will look at all possible sites where house building could take place and how we are to increase economic growth in the district.
Objectors to particular sites and developers will have their chance to give their views in full public glare. So, if as a number of letters to this newspaper have suggested, we dropped the Chennells Brook site from our Strategy tomorrow, it would still be fully examined and commented on by an inspector, as will all other suggestions being put forward.
I have received letters and emails suggesting that the council should ignore (as one person put it) the Government’s housing ‘diktat’ altogether. Presumably this means to either offer no Strategy at all or one that, given the council’s preferences in the current consultation, we clearly believe has less chance of success.
Effectively then this would be one that has a high probability of rejection. This would simply delay the whole process and we would have to go through the process again. The fact remains that until we have a Strategy fully approved by a Government inspector, we remain totally open to applications by developers on any land in the district where they might wish to build.
(Con, Chantry) leader of Horsham District Council, North Street, Horsham