West Sussex County Times

Council working within the rules

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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 Those proposals were subsequent­ly withdrawn.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

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