UPDATE 29/7/21: HDC withdrew the version of their Local Plan that was due to come to the 28 July meeting mentioned above, as they were advised that it no longer met expectations in the recently-updated national planning framework relating to a ’30-year forward vision’ for housing in the district. It is unclear how long it will take HDC to address the required reworks and re-present the Plan for Council approval. In the meantime, Thakeham PC is seeking to use this hiatus to continue to press its objections below, seeking changes in the next version of the Plan.
Thakeham Parish Council has strong objections to the HDC Local Plan Reg 19 proposals that appeared on 9 July 2021, and which are subject to a crucial special meeting of full HDC Council on Wed 28 July 2021. While there has been insufficient time to consider to full content of this 450-page document, the PC’s headline objections are set out below and have been sent to our District Councillors, asking them to represent our concerns at this meeting. Our MP Andrew Griffith and the County Times have also been briefed.
1. Proposal to re-designate Thakeham as a ‘medium village’ in the settlement heirarchy
This proposal is based on materially misleading and inaccurate statements. The PC can show, via evidence-based analysis signally lacking in the Plan, that the population and facilities of central Thakeham are typical of existing ‘small villages’ in the District and do not approach the numbers or ‘moderate level of services’ implied by this re-classification. (See Appendix 1 of our attached full response that can be downloaded below.)
Thakeham’s facilities will not be changed by the further 140 units allocated in this plan. All main services (retail, health and education) will remain located in the hub village of Storrington, which central Thakeham residents cannot even access by public transport. Central Thakeham will therefore continue to meet the description of a ‘small village’ in terms of having ‘limited services and facilities’, with its residents ‘reliant on larger settlements to access most of their requirements’, while at the same time being forced to accommodate a much higher population.
2. Housing Allocations
This Plan now proposes the addition of 140 additional houses within the Thakeham parish boundary, via two sites on High Bar Lane (65 units combined), and 75 units at a site on Rock Road. This involves a gain of 90 units over the Reg 16 2020 LP consultation. This further 140-unit allocation will comes on top of Thakeham already gaining ~400 new consents since 2017 – a cumulative increase of nearly 50% on our housing 2016 baseline, and the largest proportionate housing growth of any comparable parish in the district. Adding a further 140 units will increase that proportionate growth to an eye-watering 67%. This process has not delivered facilities gains that would make this level of housing growth sustainable.
In relation to specific sites, of the two now proposed in central Thakeham (see map to right) the Parish Council has already strongly objected to an existing application for the site at the ex-Rushfield Nursery off High Bar Lane. In the south of the parish (see below) the addition of 75 units at site SA384 Land N of Rock Road (STO2) is also particularly objectionable. The 2020 Regulation 18 Site Assessment Report deemed this site to be ‘not developable’, as it ‘is separated from the built form of Storrington by mature trees which limits the relationship of the site with the existing settlement and would give rise to a development which appears unrelated to the existing settlement form.’ No good reasons have been presented for changing the 2020 assessment of this site.
3. Sustainability issues and impact for the area, include:
- No credible plan improve public transport services to enable viable alternatives to private car use;
- No credible prospect that capacities of local primary and secondary schools will be able to cope;
- No credible prospect of Storrington’s over-subscribed primary health care facilities being able to cope.
4. Impact on the future of local planning in Horsham District
This Plan will render the neighbourhood planning process for this district redundant. A context in which neighbourhood plans evidently stand to be swept aside from year to year, at the dictate of distantly-set and unconvincing central government housing growth targets, provides no incentive for any Parish Council to invest resources and local public credibility in the neighbourhood planning process. The result will be a strongly and chronically oppositional relationship between parishes and the local authority in future.