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Horsham DC must seize opportunity to avoid catastrophic housing target

23rd February 2023

Letter published by the West Sussex County Times, 23 February 2023.

Dear Sir,

Unconscionable and catastrophic

Referring to the open consultation ‘Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill: reforms to national planning policy’, which closes 11.45pm 2 March 2023, the Horsham Conservatives’ website misleadingly states that “The changes to the NPPF, when enacted, will mean a lower housing number for Horsham District.”

This is misleading because the consultation prospectus explains that the Standard Method is to be retained – and only “exceptional circumstances relating to the particular characteristics” of a district “would justify an alternative approach” and a lower housing number.

The prospectus, Chapter 4 paragraph 8 ‘Using an alternative method’ in place of the Standard Method’ states the Government’s intent “to make clearer in the Framework that the outcome of the standard method is an advisory starting-point to inform plan-making – a guide that is not mandatory – and also propose to give more explicit indications in planning guidance of the types of local characteristics which may justify the use of an alternative method”. And crucially that:

We would welcome views on the sort of demographic and geographic factors which could be used to demonstrate these exceptional circumstances in practice”.

The importance of doing this is highlighted by Mr Paul Kornycky in his letter ‘Standard Method’ (WSCT 16/02/2023) in which he explains how the use of household projection data based on the 2021 Census in place of the 2014 based household projections, now being considered by the Government, would increase the district’s current ‘minimum housing need’ figure of 948 homes pa to 1179 pa. To which would be added some of the housing needs of other local planning authorities.

Horsham District Council must seize this one-off opportunity to identify and submit to the consultation factors and characteristics that would justify an alternative approach to the Standard Method and a lower target. Not doing this would be unconscionable – and catastrophic for the district.

Yours faithfully,

Dr R F Smith

Trustee CPRE Sussex