An update on the Horsham District Local Plan

Edition: Winter 2022

For some time now the Council has been preparing a Local Plan that will set out planning policies and proposals to guide development in the District up to 2038. The Council is required to prepare a Local Plan by law.

What has happened so far

In 2020 we published for consultation the first draft of the Horsham District Local Plan. After assessing the feedback to that consultation and gathering additional evidence we were planning to publish the Local Plan this year in a document known as the Regulation 19 Local Plan.

At this stage we would be seeking your views on whether the Local Plan meets government requirements outlined in National Policy prior to examination by a Government appointed Inspector. However there has now been a delay to this process.

What is causing the delay to the Local Plan process?

On 14 September 2021 Horsham District Council received a ‘Position Statement’ from Natural  England setting out concerns that existing water abstraction in Horsham District, as well as parts of

Chichester District and Crawley Borough, is harming internationally protected species in the Arun  Valley.

Abstracted water is used by everyone in their day to day lives, including for drinking water and  household use, supporting industry, and in schools, businesses and shops. The advice from Natural England is that in order for development to proceed in our District it must be ‘water neutral’.

What is Water Neutrality?

Maintaining water neutrality means that new development should not increase the rate of water  abstraction from our water supply site above existing levels.

What this means for the Local Plan

This statement from Natural England means Horsham District Council can now only legally approve  planning applications if it can be shown that they are water neutral. Whilst this is not expected to impact most smaller-scale householder applications, it is clear that this water mitigation issue may impact our ability to deliver development in the future.

What we are doing in response to this

We are working with Natural England and Southern Water on longer term solutions for water neutrality. In the short term, any planning applications that materially increase water demand will need to be water neutral. We need to allow time for strategies to be produced and submitted by developers.

We will continue to work together with our neighbouring councils, parishes and other stakeholders to better understand what we can and will do. We are also seeking legal advice as to what Natural England’s Position Statement means for the Council’s Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plans.

Find out more

This is a new and evolving issue for the Council. All updates will be shared online on our Local Plan webpage.

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