West of Ifield: Homes England propose meeting with residents AFTER day of council vote on controversial plans
Homes England have invited residents affected by controversial plans for housing on land West of Ifield to a meeting to discuss their concerns - but the day they have proposed is AFTER the council will vote to pass the plans.
Last week, the Horsham draft masterplan, which includes 3,250 homes on land West of Ifield – the first stage of a 10,000-home development, was moved to the next stage.
The full council meeting, where, despite protests, the masterplan is expected pass a vote, takes place on Wednesday July 28.
But Homes England's Ken Glendinning, project director, large sites, has sent out letters to residents saying they would to have a meeting with them to discuss their their concerns about the plan - including infrastructure and environment - but the meeting is proposed for the day after on Thursday, July 29 at 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
And the campaign group Save West of Ifield, who are planning a protest outside of Wednesday's full council meeting, believe the date of the proposed meeting is very telling.
Save West of Ifield reaction
A spokesman for the campaign group said: "This letter goes to underpin what concerned stakeholders have said since the beginning. The approval process for the West of Ifield development has been a completely undemocratic tick box exercise.
"Homes England have clearly felt that their proposal was a "done deal" and this raises serious questions around how Horsham District Council have conducted themselves.
"The fact that they have organised this consultation for the day after the council is set to vote the site into the local plan and communicated the meeting ahead of the vote demonstrates their assumption that the site will be approved.
"The community should be outraged. The West of Ifield plan is a wanton destruction of greenfield community assets that will overwhelm local infrastructure and fail to meet local needs on affordable housing. It is now even more important that we turn out to protest this gross misconduct ahead of the council vote.
"We urge all concerned citizens to join us outside the Horsham District Council office at 5.15pm on Wednesday 28 July."
Richard Symonds, who is part of the group, said: "The way Homes England has acted has been a shock to us in the local community - and we are angry. The 1000th member today on the Save West of Ifield site is a reflection of that anger. But the timing of the letter is significant - in between the Cabinet and Full Council meetings - so perhaps the West of Ifield option might not be a 'done deal' after all?"
Homes England letter
The letter from Homes England read: "Following our Consultation on the draft masterplan for West of Ifield which was held in March, I wanted to write to you to arrange a meeting with you to discuss the specific issues you and your neighbours raised in more detail.
"As you know, Homes England is the government’s housing accelerator and we have been promoting our land to the west of Ifield as a sustainable new neighbourhood. West of Ifield provides a once in a generation opportunity to deliver new homes of all types and tenures, to boost the local economy and to provide new infrastructure in an area with an acute housing need.
"The draft masterplan has been developed following consultation and sets the framework for the delivery of homes, physical and social infrastructure, shops, community facilities and open spaces.
"We are conscious of that, as one of the residents of Rusper Road closest to the scheme, you may have questions for us that are specific to your location and would like to meet with you to discuss the proposals to talk about some of the issues that were raised in the public consultation in more detail.
"We would therefore like to to invite you to an online meeting with your neighbours to discuss transport, construction, landscape, rights of way, sustainability and other issues raised by Rusper Road residents during the previous rounds of engagement events.
"During the first part of the meeting, the project team will briefly present further details on issues that have previously been raised. After the presentation, we will hold a roundtable discussion to allow you to ask questions and comment.
"We are proposing to hold the meeting on Thursday July 29, 5.30pm-6.30pm."