Release housing target information and letters before local elections
Letter published by the West Sussex County Times 30 March 2023
Crucial information and related correspondence should be released for public scrutiny before elections are held on 4 May
Across Horsham District the prospect of excessive and unprecedented housing targets, and the allocation of sites to accommodate them in the yet to be released new local plan, is of huge concern for communities and a key issue for the electorate to consider when deciding who to vote for on 4 May.
Meanwhile Horsham District’s Conservatives have launched their local election campaign by announcing that under Conservative control the district council has successfully lobbied the Government to reduce the number of houses allocated to the area and will require ‘even fewer sites’ to accommodate them (West Sussex County Times (WSCT) 23 March 2023).
This announcement is surprising considering that Horsham District Council’s ‘Big Conversation’ with the public on planning matters in 2022 morphed into a ‘Big Capitulation’ to developers when Cllr Lynn Lambert, replying to a question about the need to reduce the housing target for the district said that “We can shout ‘til we’re blue in the face, we can drive a tractor up Downing Street, but I don’t think it will change anything” (WSCT 12 May 2022).
And Cllr Billy Greening’s reasons for quitting the Conservative Party notably included his fear that if re-elected the leadership of the local Conservatives would bring back ‘the same failed local housing plan which is unwanted and unneeded for the people of Horsham District’ (WSCT 18 Mar 2023).
When did Horsham District Council successfully lobby the Government to reduce the number of houses allocated to the district? What has this lobbying achieved? What is the resultant housing target? Has the requirement for Horsham District Council to accept houses from other councils that are unable to accommodate in full their housing targets been waived?
This crucial information and related correspondence should be released for public scrutiny before elections are held on 4 May.
Dr R F Smith
Trustee CPRE Sussex