DECEMBER 28 2023 – ‘REFORMS WHICH PROTECT GREEN FIELDS WELCOMED’ – WEST SUSSEX COUNTY TIMES / ‘CONSULTATION FOR LOCAL PLAN’ – WEST SUSSEX COUNTY TIMES [DECEMBER 14 2023] / A REPLY FROM CLLR JOHN MILNE [HORSHAM DISTRICT COUNCIL CABINET MEMBER FOR PLANNING & INFRASTRUCTURE]

“Horsham District Council’s Full Council should have delayed their rushed Local Plan vote on December 11 2023 until after December 19 when the Government provided clear “guidelines to local councils on where they are able to build” 

Richard W. Symonds – The Ifield Society

 

 

I was very disturbed to read this [‘Consultation for Local Plan’, WSCT, Dec 14]:
“Ms Maitland-Smith was surprised to hear half of the affordable homes built west of Ifield would be used to reduce Crawley Borough Council’s housing waiting list.
The news was shared by Mr Milne, who said the council had ‘a duty to help with our neighbour’s needs’”
 
Milne’s words imply, to me, a predetermined ‘arrangement’ between CBC and HDC Planning in producing a seriously “flawed” Horsham Local Plan.
 
I hope I’m wrong.
Richard W. Symonds – The Ifield Society

AN EMAIL REPLY TO IFIELD SOCIETY’S RICHARD W. SYMONDS FROM CLLR JOHN MILNE [HORSHAM DISTRICT COUNCIL CABINET MEMBER FOR PLANNING & INFRASTRUCTURE] – DECEMBER 28 2023

Thank you for your email and I’m sorry to disappoint you with the West of Ifield allocation. As you will know we are obligated to meet our housing target and it’s very difficult to see how else we can do it, given that we must choose from the sites already shortlisted by the previous administration.

A few things to correct:

Firstly, under previous administrations there has been a long-term strategic goal of 10k homes at West of Ifield. We have gone to considerable lengths to remove this from our new Local Plan, and our associated contributions to Crawley’s Local Plan.

10k homes would halve the strategic green gap between Horsham & Crawley and make it difficult to avoid an eventual merger of the two settlements. We strongly oppose this.

The plan is explicit, this 3k is not the first instalment of a larger number.

Secondly, our commitment to give CBC 50% of the allocation rights to new affordable housing is perfectly achievable. In fact this is exactly the policy that has already been successfully followed with the Kilnwood Vale development. I further note that despite public comments from various sources, in private CBC were perfectly well aware that we were likely to allocate West of Ifield and understood why it had to happen. That’s how we were able to negotiate this figure in advance. 

Thirdly, with regard to North of Horsham/Mowbray: there are very few houses of any kind constructed yet, because of Water Neutrality and other delays. Ultimately Mowbray will deliver a very low number of affordable homes and in my view the site should never have been allocated. However, that can’t be reversed. At least Legal & General is a far better developer than the original owner, Liberty.

Please note that ‘homes for social rent’ (what used to be called ‘council houses’) are a sub category of the overall affordable homes quota. This includes many other forms of tenure such as First Homes and shared ownership. Roughly 90% of local authorities don’t provide any homes for social rent, because the cost of subsidy is so high. An area like Horsham does not receive any government support for this.

So to summarise:  I would argue that a reduction of 7k from the existing plan for West of Ifield is a huge shift of spatial policy which you should welcome. For Rusper parish you could consider it almost existential, as so much of the land would otherwise have been developed.

Crawley benefits from a new secondary school and housing to meet its ongoing unmet need, which Horsham District has been obliged to fulfill for many years.

I understand you would prefer zero development, and that is the problem we face wherever we go. But I would argue, with this revised proposal, the glass is two thirds full compared to what would have happened had the previous version of the plan gone ahead.