Horsham District Update, August 2021

2nd August 2021

Local Plan 2021-38 (Regulation 19) process delayed by changes to the NPPF

Horsham District Council’s yet to be finalised and consulted on draft development plan has set an unprecedented house-building target of 1100 houses per year, which, with future increases in prospect, including off-loading of houses from Brighton and other coastal authorities and perhaps from Surrey, too, is open ended.

To accommodate the target, strategic sites have been allocated on countryside at ‘Land West of Ifield, Crawley’, ‘Land West of Southwater’, ‘Land East of Billingshurst’, and at: ‘Land at Buck Barn, West Grinstead’.

The latter site adjoins Knepp Castle, and the ill-judged allocation has been made despite the estate’s vital function as a crucial nature recovery hub, without proper regard for the consequences.

In addition, a multitude of smaller greenfield sites have been allocated across the district, often without regard to Neighbourhood Plans, including sites previously refused at Appeal.

The draft plan was to have been considered at a full meeting of the Council, 28 July, and, subject to councillor’s approval, released for consultation 10 September to 22 October 2021, and submitted to the Planning Inspectorate thereafter.

However, this process has been put-on-hold because the revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published 20 July, stipulates that

‘Where larger scale developments such as new settlements or significant extensions to existing villages and towns form part of the strategy for the area, policies should be set within a vision that looks further ahead (at least 30 years), to take into account the likely timescale for delivery’ (paragraph 22).

Horsham District Council’s draft local development plan does not meet this new requirement, and the council must therefore revise and amend the plan.

Unfortunately, the specifics of what local authorities need to do to meet the new requirement has yet to be advised by the Government. Delays in revising and progressing the plan seem likely.

Standby for a tsunami of speculative applications to build on the district’s green fields

Meanwhile, although an application to build 473 houses within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) at Newhouse Farm, Old Crawley Road, Horsham, has fortunately been dismissed at Appeal (Decision Notice 29 July 2021) the examining Inspector assessed that the district does not have a 5-year housing land supply against the current target of 897 houses a year.

Developers will seek to exploit the identified shortfall, therefore standby for a tsunami of speculative applications to build on green fields outside of the AONB.

Dr Roger Smith

CPRE Sussex Trustee and Protect Sussex Planning Group Chair

2 August 2021