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Consequences for Horsham District should developer win planning appeal

31st May 2019

Horsham District Council’s refusal of a planning application to build 42 dwellings in countryside is now the subject of a planning appeal

Horsham District Council’s refusal of a planning application to build 42 dwellings in countryside: DC/18/2463, Land North of Sandy Lane, Henfield, is now the subject of a Planning Appeal (APP/Z3825/W/19/3227192).

The appellant is questioning whether the council has a deliverable five year housing-land supply and is also seeking to convince the examining planning inspector that should the council be able to prove that it has the requisite supply the proposed scheme would nevertheless “amount to sustainable development and having a five year housing land supply should not be used as a bar to new housing”, e.g. on sites that have not been allocated through the plan-making process.

Should the council lose this Appeal, other developers will seek to over turn the council’s refusal of their applications; plan-led development would be replaced by developer-imposed development and communities without made Neighbourhood Plans, or with plans that are more than two years old, would be particularly vulnerable.

Note that, Horsham District Council’s Authority Monitoring Report (AMR), published January 2019, states that the council can demonstrate a 109% Five Year Housing Land Supply against its local-plan requirement of 800 dwellings per year (Chapter 3 Housing, Chapter 6 Policy Indicators).

Horsham District passes the Government’s Housing Delivery Test

Horsham has passed the Government’s Housing Delivery Test, the results of which were published 19 February 2019. Had the District failed this inequitable test, its housing target would have been increased and the council would have had to allocate additional sites in consequence.

Horsham District Council’s review of the HDPF and the preparation of the new Local Plan, for the period 2021 to 2036

To calculate what the new house-building target should be the Council must use the Government’s new formula-based method, which by means of hocus pocus with numbers has been rigged to achieve an-over England target of at least 300,000 new homes per year.

This means that Horsham’s current target of 800 houses per year will be increased to a minimum base-line number of around 950/990 houses per year, which developers will seek to increase; plus in compliance with the ‘Duty to Co-operate’ with other Councils, a proportion of the new houses ‘needed’ by other councils, (the so-called ‘unmet need’), including Crawley Borough (currently 150 per year of the latter’s unmet need are allocated to Horsham), Adur, Brighton and Hove, Chichester, Mole Valley, and Worthing, therefore an imposed annual target probably in the range of 1300/1600 per year, therefore 19500/24000 over the 15 years to 2036, perhaps more, with huge ramifications for communities and the natural environment.

Communities need to be alert as to what might be coming to their greenfields. HDC’s ‘SHELAA Housing Land Reports by Parish’ are essential reading.

As part of the plan-review process, HDC has to identify strategic sites with the capacity to accommodate the yet to be announced house-building target, for inclusion in the new plan.

Hence “a number of developers seeking to carry out large-scale developments had sought detailed discussion with the planning department. Of these only Market Mayfield Town and their proposed site has been identified to date” (West Sussex County Times 15/01/19).

Details of their proposal, for a development of up to 6,120 dwellings on countryside in the parishes of Henfield, Shermanbury and Woodmancote, are given in HDC’s Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) Housing Report 2018, released January 2019 (page 52:SA414).

The SHELAA advises, with caveats, that the proposed development-site is “not currently developable”, “unless allocated for development through the review of the Horsham District ”.

Other strategic-scale sites identified in the SHELAA include Adversane/North Heath (SA597), Billingshurst (SA118, SA642), Itchingfied (SA130), Kingsfold (SA459), Kilnwood Vale (SA341) and Southwater (SA119). They, too, are classified as being “not currently developable”, “unless allocated for development through the review of the Horsham District Plan”.

Doubtless some, if not all of the developers and landowners who put their sites forward for inclusion in the SHELAA are, like Market Mayfield Town, seeking to have them allocated in the new Local Plan.

Legal & General Capital has purchased the strategic-development site, North of Horsham, for which outline planning permission for 2750 new homes and a business park was granted by Horsham District Council in May 2017 (West Sussex County Times, 07/02/19).

It is to be hoped that Legal & General will meet the Local Plan requirement for 35% affordable housing, instead of the 18% offered by Liberty Property Trust and accepted by HDC, May 2017.

Dr Roger F Smith
CPRE Sussex’s Horsham District leader
and Chair Protect Sussex Group 29 May 2019