‘Why rush the local plan?’ [West Sussex County Times, January 5 2023]:

“At recent Council meetings, Cllr Hogben has understandably sounded warning bells about Horsham Council’s financial position for 2023/4 – cost pressures from high inflation in the medium-term, plus uncertainty around the economic outlook and central government action – possibly cuts.

“Council has voted to increase various fees, fines and charges, but no decisions have yet been taken about expenditure.

“So why are they considering a substantial but unnecessary expenditure in the next few years?
If Council rushes its Local Plan through in January without exploring the potential benefits of Michael Gove’s stated intention to water-down housebuilding requirements, then not only will they miss an opportunity to build fewer houses, but they may well need to review the Plan in one to two years’ time when the Gove intentions become policy. At great expense.

“Then again, maybe house-building is a lucrative income stream for the Council’s coffers? I wonder how much of the recent ‘healthy financial position’ is due to the delivery of significantly more houses than required by government targets?
And if they did reduce house-building to a number that actually reflected genuine local need (500-600 a year?), and included properly affordable housing, this would pose an inconvenient risk to their finances?

“And if the reason for rushing the Local Plan through in January is fear of speculative development [due to lack of 5-year land supply], then don’t the water neutrality constraints ensure a brake significant speculative applications for a couple of years at least?

“With so many unanswered questions, so much uncertainty and so many unhappy residents, it seems an odd political gamble to rush through a Plan ahead of the May elections”.

Fenella Maitland-Smith
Mount Lodge, Ifield Wood


‘Yesterday’ Sculpture – ‘Lost Woodland’ Gallery – County Oak – Manor Royal BID

’NYD walk’, WSCT Letters, Jan 5

Over fifty people braved the muddy conditions last Sunday morning for the annual New Year’s Day Walk organised by the Ifield Village Association – starting [and finishing] at the historic Plough.

The rain held off as walkers headed north-east towards Willoughby Fields Local Nature Reserve, and some ‘hidden gems’ near Gatwick – such as the Manor Royal ‘Lost Woodland Gallery’ Sculptures.

Richard W. Symonds

The Ifield Society