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Housing target for Horsham District to be increased

Tuesday, 02 October 2018 10:38

Horsham’s Local Plan, the Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF), adopted November 2015, is subject to a now-in-progress review by Horsham District Council (HDC), as required by the examining Planning Inspector in his Report to HDC, October 2015.

This Inspector imposed an interim house-building target of,800 per year,16,000 in total, to 2031 in expectation that the Review, which had to commence within three years of the Plan’s adoption, therefore by November 2018, would result in a substantial increase,

In consequence of the Government’s new formula-based method of calculating housing targets, and also the requirement to meet the unmet needs of neighbouring Councils, it will be a massive increase.

At HDC’s Neighbourhood Planning Conference 2018, held 26 September 2018, officers advised that there was no final housing number as yet.

However, HDC advised last year that using the new method could increase the District’s interim target from 800 to 1,173 new houses per year, probably more because of the requirement to meet the housing needs of other councils.

An increase of that magnitude would require one or more additional strategic sites, including perhaps a new settlement, and doubtless result in yet more development on countryside adjoining villages across the District. This has serious implications for the natural environment, because much of the District’s countryside is without designated protection. In consequence, flora, fauna and habitats are not accorded the level of protection applicable inside the AONB and SDNP.

Last year, too, HDC warned that a target of 1,173 houses per year would be unsustainable without major government investment because local infrastructure and essential services were already overstretched.

Time Table for completing the HDPF review and producing a new Plan is as follows: Preferred Strategy Consultation Autumn 2019, Proposed-Submission Consultation April-May 2020, Submission and Examination late Summer or Autumn 2020, and Inspector’s Report 2021.

At the Neighbourhood Planning Conference, 26 September, officers advised that the District has a five year housing land supply and was compliant with the new Housing Delivery Test.

This is important because if the Council were to be failed on either requirement, even though it is developers who decide and control build-out rates, communities would be vulnerable to developer-imposed house-building. Communities without made Neighbourhood Plans that are less than two years old, would be particularly vulnerable because paragraph 14 of the new NPPF would apply.

Dr Roger F Smith
Trustee CPRE Sussex and Protect Sussex Group Chair
1 October 2018

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