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Letter: L&G’s plans for Horsham miss social responsibility commitment

26th March 2021

Letter published in the West Sussex County Times 25 March 2021


Substantial mismatch between L&G’s proclaimed socially responsible commitments, and the reality of its plans to develop North of Horsham

Legal & General’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and its target-driven approach to creating ‘positive change’ is detailed in its ‘Build Back Better’ 2019 report.

In this report the company recognises the urgent need for affordable homes, declaring “with millions of people in the UK on housing waiting lists or in temporary accommodation, we have invested £750 million into new affordable housing and plan to build 3,000 affordable homes every year, so even more people will have a place to call their own”.

And, to combat climate change, Legal & General (L&G) “invested £1.1 billion in renewable and alternative energy – in particular, solar and offshore wind power”, because “We have a decade to prevent catastrophic climate change so Legal & General’s journey to net zero is our most critical commitment”.

Unfortunately for Horsham, and indeed for West Sussex, there is a substantial mismatch between L&G’s proclaimed socially responsible commitments, and the reality of its application, DC/21/0066, to build 197 homes, ‘Land North of Horsham, Area 2, Old Holbrook’. The application indicates the way in which the company will develop the entirety of North of Horsham, for which there is outline approval to build 2,750 homes.

With this application, L&G is offering 25 (12.6%) affordable, not the 69 (35%) required by the HDPF. The resultant shortfall of 44 affordable homes is substantial, especially in view of the district’s urgent need for affordable housing.

(12.6% applied to 2,750 new homes, North of Horsham, would result in a shortfall of 616 affordable homes against the 35% requirement, for 962).

In addition, new homes there will not be fitted with photovoltaic solar panels even though L&G’s Energy and Sustainability Statement for the application acknowledges that 

Solar PV systems offset the high carbon content of grid -supplied electricity and constitute a proven and mature technology that can be easily integrated into the design and construction of the buildings, if required to meet planning requirements”.

(HDPF Policy 37 includes a requirement to “Maximise energy efficiency and integrate the use of decentralised, renewable and low carbon energy”).

If L&G’s commitment to social responsibility as proclaimed in its Build Back Better report is genuine, it will modify DC/21/0066 – to deliver 35% affordable homes and homes fitted with solar panels.

Yours faithfully,

Dr R F Smith

Trustee CPRE Sussex