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Draft Local Plan: Your questions answered

Why do we need so much housing development in our District?

The Government has instructed all local authorities to increase the number of new houses which are built in the coming years.  The minimum housing number for Horsham District is calculated using a ‘standard methodology’. Local authorities are required to adhere to this figure and cannot change it.

In addition, Government policy requires all local planning authorities to work across boundaries to explore whether they can provide any additional homes to meet the housing needs from neighbouring areas that they cannot provide themselves. This falls within a legal duty known as the ‘Duty to Cooperate’.

It is also important that the new Local Plan makes adequate provision for new development, to ensure that housing and jobs are provided to meet local needs and ensure that Horsham District continues to have healthy, happy and prosperous communities into the future.

What will happen if we don’t plan for more housing? Why can’t we just say no?

The Local Plan is a legal requirement and the Government has made clear that all local authorities must have an up-to-date plan. Failure to do so could lead to intervention whereby the Government writes our Local Plan and policies. Without a new plan we could find ourselves unable to resist unacceptable development or refused applications being granted on appeal. This could result in unplanned development in unsustainable locations.

Where will the housing go?

The Local Plan will allocate land for new housing. The Council prepares lots of evidence that will help to decide where housing should (and should not) be located.

All sites which have been suggested to the Council as a possible site assessment have been considered on a consistent basis using a robust site assessment process.

The results of this assessment process will be published for comment as part of the Local Plan consultation. Although potential sites are listed in the draft consultation document, no choices have yet been made. The decisions of the Council on the sites eventually to be allocated will depend on the feedback we receive during this consultation. Local residents, businesses and other stakeholders will all be consulted on where development should be located.

It is important to note that none of the sites in the Draft Local Plan (Regulation 18) have been selected at the consultation stage. These are potential sites that have been put forward by developers and assessed by us for suitability. We have published the site assessments for consultation because we went to hear your views.

How do you choose which sites will get built on?

In order to find sites which are suitable for housing and employment development, we have to consider what effect a development would have on the environment, the economy as well as social issues such as whether a site will provide affordable housing, open space or require new schools to be provided. Sites with the most positive social and economic impacts and the lowest environmental impacts are those which are shortlisted.

We also need to consider whether sites are genuinely available for development, and when a development might happen (for example in a year or over 10 years time). More information about the sites we have shortlisted is set out in our consultation document and the background site assessment paper.

We are seeking views and feedback on the possible sites as part of the consultation process and it is important to stress that not all of these sites will ultimately be allocated for development. The outcome of this consultation will provide further information and evidence regarding which sites are the more suitable.

The Council has previously assessed some sites as not suitable for development, but is now consulting on whether it should come forward for development. Why is this?

When preparing a Local Plan the Council must assess all sites, taking account of a number of factors. This includes National Planning Policy which has changed considerably over time – for example it is now setting a much higher housing target than was the case 10 years ago. Other factors which the Council must also take into account include the economy, infrastructure requirements and the environment. As part of this assessment it is necessary to consider whether there have been any changes over time that may affect the site or its surroundings, or whether factors, such as new technology that is now available, can mitigate or offset problems that could not have been overcome in the past.  This can mean that the outcome of assessment work can change over time.

Do we need to provide accommodation for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople?

Yes. It is a legal requirement that Local Authorities assess and meet the accommodation needs of Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in the Local Plan.  We have commissioned an assessment of the Gypsy, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in Horsham District to ensure that we can meet these needs.

What do you mean by affordable housing?

The Government's definition of affordable housing is housing provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. It includes:

  • social rented housing
  • affordable rented housing which is let by local authorities, or by private registered providers of social housing, to households who are eligible for social rented housing. Rent is controlled to be no more than 80 per cent of the local market rent.
  • intermediate housing, defined as homes for sale and rent provided at a cost above social rent but below market levels. Intermediate housing can include shared ownership and other low-cost homes for sale and intermediate rent

How is the need for affordable housing addressed in the Local Plan?

We recognise that the affordability of housing is a significant concern for people living in the District. This includes younger people looking to move into their first property, and those who simply do not earn enough to be  able to afford to buy a home.

It is important that as a Council we try to meet the needs of all of our communities, and to ensure that younger generations continue to live and work in the District.

The Local Plan will include a policy that requires a significant portion of the housing to be affordable housing. This will include a proportion of social or affordable rented housing, and intermediate housing such as ‘shared ownership’.