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Councils are not the issue

5th October 2023

Letter published by the West Sussex County Times, 5 October 2023

Dear Sir,

Councils are not the issue

Mr Andrew Griffith MP reported in his weekly opinion column, under the heading ‘Passionate about nature in England’ (West Sussex County Times, 7 September 2023), that the Government was reforming the planning system “to prevent district council planning departments riding roughshod over local communities”.

This is a surprising and contentious statement because across Sussex it is developers enabled by government policy, not councils, that are “riding roughshod over local communities”.

When councils refuse applications to develop unallocated sites developers appeal and Planning Inspectors decide.

Where local plans are deemed to be out-of-date, as in Horsham District, Planning Inspectors do not consider the reasons why when determining appeals.

The district’s yet-to-emerge local plan has been on hold for circumstances that are beyond the council’s control, including the need for development to achieve water neutrality, and critical changes to the NPPF yet to be announced by the Government. This reality is of no consequence to Planning Inspectors.

Meanwhile developers enabled by government policy continue to ride roughshod not only over the district’s communities but also the need for development to be sustainable for present and future generations.

What say Mr Griffith? After all a substantial part of the district is within his constituency.

Yours faithfully,

Dr R F Smith

Trustee CPRE Sussex