Planning - making the best of a bad lot

Columnists
Columnists

The Local Plan returns to council tonight, showing central government how we can meet the town’s planning needs over the next fifteen years.

When the previous administration brought the plan before council last December it was voted out by all three parties on the council. Since taking control, Labour has improved the affordable housing numbers, removed proposals which would have constituted overdevelopment and ensured plans for the town centre are in line with reality.

Even so, the plan isn’t ideal. We inherited it at a late stage and until it’s approved the council is vulnerable to hostile development. To regain control of the planning process we need a plan to be approved and we’ve amended it as best as possible in the time we’ve had.

One thing I’m not happy with is the requirement we set aside space for a reserve site for settled local traveller families, something Horsham and Mid Sussex also have to do.

Crawley is a dense urban area and we’re already struggling to meet our housing numbers, being forced to take out a housing site just doesn’t seem right. Since a site has to go on housing quality land it rules out anywhere near the airport and leaves us with a choice between putting the site in the middle of a neighbourhood or land on the Horsham side of the A264 at Buchan Kennels.

I understand Broadfield residents’ concerns but let’s be clear what is actually being proposed.

The plan doesn’t give planning permission for the site to be used for this purpose, the site is owned by the council and only the council can bring the site forward in the future, no identified need currently exists and it will be up to the council to assess if it ever does, families from outside Crawley don’t qualify and those which do already settled in the town, and if a need does emerge the council will continue to look for alternative sites. The plan is a numbers game with central government and without it we cannot protect other sites in Crawley.

Personally, I don’t believe the site will ever be used for that purpose but the government requires us to put a site in the plan and it’s the best of a bad lot.