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On 13th August, we had a meeting with Horsham District Council. The purpose was to get a feel for how HDC views the present situation now their Local Plan has been submitted to the Planning Inspector who will decide upon it during late autumn. Present at the meeting were Ian Thwaites and Richard Page of KSG, and Southwater’s three District Councillors, Claire Vickers, Ian Howard and John Chidlow, plus officers from HDC’s Planning Department and Environmental Health. This is our summary of the meeting.

It seems HDC has a reasonable level of confidence about their plan being accepted by the Inspector, but they are realistic and of course cannot be sure how it will be received. Their numbers situation has improved of late due to higher than expected build-out rates and odd fill-in completions. However, there are still concerns about the whether they can fulfil their 5-year land supply and it is this we’ve heard over and over again from the chorus of developer submissions that the West Sussex County Times has picked up on recently.

Our assessment of this outpouring of greed from the developers was that they are making as much noise as possible in the hope that the Inspector will listen and demand higher numbers. It was apparent that HDC basically agrees with our analysis that the developers are just hedging their bets and trying to see if they can squeeze out more permissions from the Inspector.

There was at least a hint that HDC thought that if their plan was rejected by the Inspector then Berkeley Homes would re-enact a 2750 application for Southwater. They do not know this, but it is apparent that all the developers are getting plans ready in case, and we know from past experience that the Fletcher Trust will be pushing Berkeley for the absolute maximum. We obtained useful detail of the EIP (examination in public) process by which the plan is judged and it’s clear Barristers are not generally a part of it. We could be involved if the Inspector wants to hear our point of view, which we can hope he will.

Both the current application for 634 units from Berkeley Homes and the proposal by Wates Developments will be rejected by HDC if the Local Plan is accepted by the Inspector. However, we should all be aware that if the plan does not get passed we are in trouble, because this would mean a storm of applications all around Horsham – north, south, east and west!

It’s our belief that it really is in everyone’s best interests if the Local Plan, for all its faults, is passed by the Inspector. If not, we fear it will be mayhem.

The sewerage problem remains a worry. We think HDC is genuinely trying to sort out something with Southern Water. Environmental Health has very little input now – they are only involved when a problem is confined to an individual’s property.

So far as the risk of anthrax contamination is concerned, please read our letter to Tony Pidgley, the boss of the Berkeley Group, which explains the situation and makes a specific plea to Berkeley Homes to see some sense and leave the field alone. We shall keep going until they do.