YOUR TOWN: YOUR VISION: YOUR PLAN.
Back in September I wrote to you explaining that Horsham District Council had agreed to the continued designation of Horsham Blueprint as a Business Neighbourhood Forum and that the next stage was Regulation 16 Consultation conducted by Horsham District Council (HDC).This took place during September and October 2020 prior to the required Independent Examination.
The role of the Independent Examiner is to consider the draft plan, together with the Regulation 16 representations, to determine if the plan meets the basic conditions requirements. This is to ensure that the plan is consistent with existing national and local planning policies, environmental requirements and human rights legislation.
The Independent Examiner has now started his review of the plan and we expect to receive the draft report by the end of January / early February 2020. The Examiner can either recommend:
- The neighbourhood plan, with or without modification, is submitted to a referendum
- The neighbourhood plan does not proceed to a referendum because it does not meet the legal requirements
The decision to proceed to referendum and timing is then a matter for Horsham District Council.
I know that many are disappointed that Blueprint did not include a number of well-known open spaces as “green spaces” within the Neighbourhood Plan. This is reflected in a number of the comments submitted to Horsham District Council in response to the Regulation 16 Consultation.
We share that disappointment; but irrespective of our personal views, we had to base our decision on the criteria for “green spaces” given in the National Planning Framework. Our decisions were not taken lightly and were based on professional advice.
We concluded that the identification of these sites as “local green spaces” would have compromised the plan’s compliance with the “basic conditions”. This would result in the Examiner recommending that they be removed from the plan; or provide HDC with a reason not to take the plan forward to referendum – thereby losing the protection granted by “local green spaces” designation to the twenty four other locations spread across Horsham.
Despite not being able to designate Rookwood and Muggeridge Field as “local green spaces” they have been identified as part of the “green Infrastructure network”. Policies on green infrastructure have been considerably strengthened following comments on the Draft Plan.
Policy HB10: Green and Blue Infrastructure and Delivering Biodiversity Net Gain includes:
“Proposals for development must be supported by a biodiversity appraisal, which must demonstrate how negative impacts would be minimised and biodiversity net gain achieved….. Where this is not demonstrated, permission for planning or for change should be refused.”
Whilst this won’t necessarily stop development – it does set a very high bar that must be satisfied before planning permission can be granted.
Thank you for your ongoing support of Horsham Blueprint and best wishes for 2021.
on behalf of the the Horsham Blueprint Steering Committee