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Essential requirements should be stipulated in local plan policy

22nd December 2023

Letter published by the West Sussex County Times, 21 December 2023

Dear Sir,

That the provision of infrastructure ‘has failed to keep up with housing’ in Billingshurst, (West Sussex County Times, 14 December 2023, quoting Cllr Sam Bateman) is unfortunately neither unsurprising nor indeed confined to Billingshurst.

During the Examination in Public of the Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF), in 2014, the examining inspector explained that whilst he was required by the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to facilitate a substantial increase in housebuilding in the district, he was not required to determine whether sufficient funding would be forthcoming to pay for the infrastructure and services needed in consequence of the increase – and therefore by implication whether the increase was truly sustainable.

He also acknowledged that Government policies enabled developers to seek and obtain reductions in the payments required of them for infrastructure and affordable homes, which is still the case.

Whether Horsham District Council’s draft consultation Regulation 19 plan’s ‘Strategic Policy 23: Infrastructure Provision’ will be sufficient to avoid continuing shortfalls in essential infrastructure and services is an important consideration.

That it does not explicitly stipulate that development and the provision of infrastructure and services must be synchronous, and that development will not be permitted where the timely provision of infrastructure and services is not assured, doesn’t augur well.

These essential requirements should be stipulated in the policy.

Yours faithfully,

Dr R F Smith

Trustee CPRE Sussex