West Sussex County Times
Council working within the rules
In last week’s letters pages it was suggested that Horsham District Council had raised a white flag and ‘readily conceded’ a huge increase from 800 to 1,200 homes.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The council has consistently sought to minimise the housing number, writing three times to the minister challenging the impact of Covid on both the process of making a local plan, and the as yet unknown effect on housing demand.
The response was clear and consistent – ‘Do not delay in making your plan’.
The council also worked closely with our MPs, challenging proposals which would have increased housing targets significantly. Those proposals were subsequently withdrawn.
This is not a council that has readily accepted anything.
The only way to protect the district ‘from the developers’ bulldozers’ is to make a plan that will pass an examination in public conducted by the Planning Inspectorate.
If the council submitted a local plan that did not consider the duty to co-operate with our neighbours, it would fall at the first hurdle and not even proceed to examination.
Should that happen, the council would have to start the plan-making process from scratch – a process that would be likely to take at least 18 months. During that period, developers of sites across Horsham district would no doubt submit speculative applications knowing that, even if the council refused permission, they would appeal to secure permission.
That’s precisely why the council used the Planning Inspectorate’s health-check service to test the draft local plan for soundness.
The experts, including the body that will actually be conducting the examination, disagreed with Mr Kornycky’s views on duty to co-operate and housing numbers.
The council will continue to prepare a plan that minimises housing numbers within existing planning rules as these are the only arguments that will carry weight with the Planning Inspectorate.
GLEN CHIPP Chief executive, Horsham District Council