Edition: Summer 2020
The Government requires all district councils to produce a Local Plan to guide where housing development in their areas will go over a twenty year period. This has to be updated every five years. Horsham District Council is currently going through that revision process.
In February and March of this year, the Council published a draft of the revised Local Plan for public consultation. This document set out options of how the Council could meet the house build target set by Government. It also looked at other matters including biodiversity enhancements and more affordable housing.
Prior to the consultation, the Council’s Leader, Cllr Ray Dawe, wrote to the Secretary of State responsible for housing seeking a review of what was considered an excessively high requirement for the numbers of new houses that the Council is expected to plan for. He queried why the use of yearly house-build target numbers of houses had seemingly replaced an ability to average them over several years to allow for short term differences in the rate of house building.
In the meantime, the Government announced the national lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This has significant implications for everyone including Horsham District. The Council leadership believes it is important to ensure that the impacts of this pandemic are considered as part of the Local Plan process.
The Government has also responded to the letters from Cllr Dawe. In those they have stated that they expect Local Planning Authorities to continue to prepare Local Plans. There has been no change to the Government guidance that once a Local Plan reaches five years of age they are considered ‘out of date’. This means that in November, when our current Local Plan reaches five years of age, our housing target will increase from 800 to an unprecedented 965 homes each year.
As a result, despite the challenges of Covid-19, it is very important that we continue to prepare our Local Plan as quickly as possible. Without a new Local Plan we could find ourselves finding refused housing applications being granted on appeal. This could result in unplanned development and limit the level of supporting infrastructure which can be provided.
We received over 6,000 comments in response to our Local Plan consultation. Many of the comments received raised concerns about the amount of housing proposed, and about the environmental impact of any development. The need for existing and new development to be supported by enough new schools, health centres and road improvements was also a very common response. A summary of these findings and links to the detailed comments is available on the Horsham District Council website.
The comments received are an important part of the Local Plan process and we are very grateful to all those who got involved. The findings of the consultation, alongside technical evidence-based work, will be taken into account as we prepare the final draft of the Local Plan, ready for further consultation (known as ‘Regulation 19’). This document will set out updated policies. It will also set out the sites which the Council considers should be allocated for development. Not all of the sites, which were consulted on in the Draft Local Plan (Regulation 18) published in February, will be included. Only some of these will be allocated for development. Ultimately, it will be for a Government Inspector who, having seen what is proposed by the Council and heard any objections, to agree the content of the Local Plan.
Find out more
Find further information about the stages of Local Plan preparation and the currently proposed timescales for this to take place on the Horsham District Council website.
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