Has Horsham District really been spared a massive increase in its housing target?

Letter published by the West Sussex County Times, 31 December 2020

Sir,

Has Horsham District really been spared a massive increase in its housing target?

Horsham district has been spared a massive increase in house building” (1,715 houses per year) because “the Government has dropped changes to the existing housing numbers formula (the ‘Standard Method’) and instead there will be a greater focus on building new homes in the UK’s largest urban areas” (WSCT 17 Dec 20).

Unfortunately, it remains to be seen whether Horsham District really has been spared ‘a massive increase in house building’. 

The target of 800 houses per year, set by the Planning Inspector who examined the Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF) during 2014/15, life-expired in November, five years after the HDPF’s adoption, November 2015.

This now redundant target comprised 650 houses allocated to meet the District’s need for housing, plus an allocation of 150 houses to meet a proportion of Crawley Borough’s ‘unmet need’ – the houses needed by Crawley, which because of a lack of sites within its boundaries must be built outside of the borough, in compliance with the ‘Duty to Cooperate’.

As required by the Government, HDC has had to use the Standard Method’s formula, which includes a misnamed ‘affordability factor’/algorithm, to calculate the District’s ‘minimum annual local housing need’. 

The resultant minimum target is 920 houses per year, an increase of 270 houses (41.54%) per year on the 650 per year allocated to meet the district’s housing need in 2015.

In addition to the minimum figure calculated using the ‘Standard Method’, Horsham’s in-progress new local plan has also to accommodate some of the unmet need not only of Crawley, but of other councils, too. 

What the total unmet need figure will be, if known by HDC, has yet to be made public.  Only then will we know what the actual target (920 + other councils’ ‘unmet need’) will be. 

Yours faithfully,

Roger Smith

Dr R F Smith

Trustee CPRE Sussex