Local Plan Review Newsletter

Published: 18 Oct 2023

Local Plan graphic

December 2023 - Local Plan Review update

At a meeting of full Council on 11 December 2023 Horsham councillors approved the Horsham District Local Plan Regulation 19 document for 2023 to 2040 and recommended that it proceeds to the next stage of preparation. This is known as the Regulation 19 stage.

During this formal period of Representation from 19 January to 1 March 2024 you will be able to comment on whether this Regulation 19 Local Plan meets national planning requirements and is legally compliant.  Your representations will then be submitted with the Local Plan for consideration by a government-appointed, independent Planning Inspector.

Read the full media release here

October 2023 - Local Plan Review newsletter

Officers within the Strategic Planning Team have worked with elected Councillors to agree a timetable for the Local Plan review and are seeking to ensure that the new Local Plan reflects the aspirations of the new Council administration who were elected in May this year.

We intend to provide regular updates on the preparation of the Local Plan going forward including updates of any consultation events and the publication of any Local Plan documentation.

There have been a number of challenges and delays to the preparation of the Council's Local Plan and we hope this newsletter provides a useful summary of work over the last few years.

The Local Plan preparation so far

Our current Local Plan, known as the Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF), was adopted in November 2015.  The Government requires all local planning authorities to review their Local Plan every five years.  When a plan is out of date it makes it harder to bring forward development which reflects our needs or to refuse speculative developments that we consider may be unsuitable.

The review of the current Local Plan began in 2018.  The steps and challenges that the Council have faced are summerised below.

Issues and Options

In April and May 2018, the Council published the Issues and Options for Employment, Tourism and Sustainable Rural Development document.  We asked for your feedback to deliver economic growth  in the District, and how to achieve sustainable development.

Regulation 18

In February and March 2020, we published and consulted upon the Regulation 18 Draft Local Plan.  A number of in person consultation events were held at locations across the District where people could come and view the document and talk to our officers.

We asked for your views on the draft vision, objectives and strategy for the District.  The document included draft planning policies including policies for the protection and enhancement of the natural and built environment. We also asked for your views on a number of sites which were considered to have potential for allocation for new housing development.

We received 6,320 comments from 3,352 different respondents (some respondents provided multiple different comments) including individual residents, Parish and Neighbourhood Councils and community groups, and those representing the development industry such as site promoters and landowners, as well as statutory bodies such as the Environment Agency and neighbouring local authorities.  You can remind yourself of the comments made and read a summary of the issues here.

All the comments submitted at Regulation 18 have been read and continue to be considered by officers in preparing the next stage of the Local Plan review process; developing the Regulation 19 Proposed Submission Local Plan.

Process to 'Regulation 19'

To prepare a Regulation 19 Local Plan, the Council must produce a number of supporting documents known as an evidence base.  These are in the process of being published on our website here.  When the Council reaches the Regulation 19 Proposed Submission Local Plan stage, the draft Local Plan will be published for a period of representation (comment) and the document becomes the formal policy of the Council.

After the representation period, the Draft Plan will be submitted, along with any representations received and the evidence base, to a Government-appointed Planning Inspector for independent examination.

Delays and Challenges

There have been a number of delays and challenges in preparing the Regulation 19 Local Plan, the most critical of which are:

Updates to National Policy - an update to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) by the government in July 2021 meant that the Draft Regulation 19 Horsham District Local Plan was postponed to ensure that the new requirements in this document could be met.

Water Neutrality - In September 2021 Natural England  (the organisation who oversees the management of wildlife and habitats across the UK) published a Position Statement.  This stated that abstraction for drinking water supplies in Northwest Sussex (which includes all of Horsham District) is having a negative impact on the wildlife sites in the Arun Valley.  Any new development that takes place must not add to this negative impact.  This means new development cannot increase the demand for water - in other words it must be water neutral.

This meant that the Council had to delay the progress of the Local Plan until a Water Neutrality Strategy for the area is developed.  This work continues to be progressed.

Next Steps and Future Aspirations

On 28 September, the Cabinet agreed the timetable for the preparation of the new Local Plan.  This timetable is known as the Local Development Scheme.  The draft Regulation 19 Proposed Submission Local Plan is programmed to be considered by Cabinet and Council on 11 December 2023.

Officers are working to ensure that the Local Plan evidence is up to date and takes account of the feedback on the Local Plan to date.  In addition, the Strategic Planning Team will continue to work to ensure that the new Local Plan reflects the aspirations of the new Council.  This includes:

  • Ensuring the Local Plan reflects the Council's recent decision to agree a Notice of Motion of a Climate and Ecological Emergency.  It is important any new development will deliver zero carbon development and climate change mitigation.
  • Delivering opportunities for active travel and significantly reduce the need to make journeys by car.
  • Ensuring any new development provides appropriate infrastructure (e.g new schools or community facilities) and that its delivery is realistic and reliable.
  • Protecting nature corridors and giving easy access to local green spaces.
  • Maximising the delivery of affordable housing, and other forms of lower cost housing that would benefit local residents (e.g Community Land Trusts, co-living).

For a more detailed explanation of each stage of the Local Plan, or how we consult, please visit our What is a Local Plan? page and our Statement of Community Involvement document.