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West Sussex council requests a pause in progress of local plan

Words: Laura Edgar
Planning / iStock_000035898050

Horsham District Council has asked the government to suspend the review of the area’s local plan during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires local plans to be reviewed and updated every five years. 

Horsham’s current adopted plan will be out of date in November, with its housing requirement set to increase from 800 homes a year to 965 homes. 

As the pressure is on staff to guarantee that its services are maintained while following the government’s guidance on Covid-19, “these are challenging times for the council”. Although some requirements have been relaxed, the preparation of local plans is not one of them, the council points out. 

On 30 March, the draft local plan consultation was concluded.   

“All the advertised public drop-in sessions took place well in advance of the lockdown. These were well attended and we have received a very large number of public comments from individuals, organisations and groups,” said Claire Vickers, Horsham District Council cabinet member for planning and development.

“Until we hear that there is any change, if we are to have a draft plan ready by November, we have to continue to work within the existing time frames so that we can do all we can to prevent developers putting in speculative planning applications.

“In the very changed circumstances we find ourselves in, I think it is vital to take the action of trying to get this local plan process delayed. Councillor Ray Dawe, leader of the council, has written to the secretary of state setting out the potential impacts of Covid-19 on the council and on our local plan preparation, and is requesting that the requirements for local plan timetable are reviewed.”

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