The new Horsham District Local Plan: preparing the final draft

Edition: Winter 2021

All councils which are local planning authorities, like Horsham District Council, are required by the Government to produce a Local Plan. This contains policies for all matters relating to housing and planning.

A graphic design of a community enjoying a sunny day. A play park, open spaces, low-rise buildings and a bus can be seen in the shot

It also must be based on a Government formula that shows the minimum number of houses the Council is required to give permission for going forward, and also show where they would go.

It is important that a council publishes a Local Plan. Not producing one does not mean that house building would not take place. Without it, there would be no say in where building happens, and it would then be much more difficult to secure infrastructure upgrades needed to support housing developments.

Last year we published a first draft of a new Local Plan for public consultation. We asked for your feedback on a number of policies.

These included proposals about biodiversity, the environment and climate change. We also asked for your thoughts on both the housing numbers and different locations throughout the District where housing developments might go.

The Council received over 6,000 comments in response to that consultation, from a mixture of local residents, statutory consultees, such as West Sussex County Council and the Environment Agency, as well as landowners and developers. These comments have been considered as part of our work to provide a further draft of our plan. We have also been looking at the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and talking to  key stakeholders who input into the Local Plan such as the NHS.

The next stage, subject to a vote by all Council members, is for a final draft to be published for a further period of consultation from February 2021. This version will set out where new development would be allocated, how much affordable housing should be built, and where new schools, road upgrades or health provision will need to be provided to support that.

All this comes at a time when the Government has been consulting on changes to the planning system and also on a new basis of calculating the future housing numbers it requires councils to allow to be built. This new calculation would effectively double the current number of houses that the Government requires to be built in the district. We have strongly objected to this proposal and we believe that progressing with the Local Plan before any possible changes take place will enable us to maintain, at least for a period of time, what are already high and very challenging house build targets at the current required level.

The revised Local Plan will be published for consultation on our website and, unless prevented by Covid-19 restrictions, we will also place reference copies in local libraries.

All responses will be sent to a Government appointed inspector,  who will carry out an examination of the draft Local Plan, test it against legislation, and decide whether the Council can use it or not.

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