LETTER: £32m black-hole in infrastructure

Personal thoughts from the Horsham District Planning Framework (HDPF) hearings… whilst different groups of residents had differing views as to just where the massive new house building planned for Horsham District should go, they were united as one on concerns over infrastructure.

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Time after time the issues of inadequate transport, education, health, utilities and leisure provision surfaced with the consensus being that delivery of such always lagged behind the new homes, if delivered at all. With the ‘vanished carrot’ of a new hospital for North Horsham replaced by the ‘now it’s in/now it’s out’ mirage of a new Parkway Rail Station, residents have every right to be sceptical.

Now we learn that because over £12.5m is expected to be spent on Abnormal Site Development Costs (utilities, flood defence etc) at the North Horsham site, the anticipated developer contribution to CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) to pay for strategic, district-wide infrastructure will be NIL.

The council answer to this is that the developer (Liberty) will be paying £52.5m to provide site-specific infrastructure and so there is no surplus left to additionally contribute to CIL.

Well, that’s as maybe, but let’s look at the only other comparable strategic development site, namely West of Horsham, with its 2,000 new homes spread either side of the A24 at Broadbridge Heath. There too the developers were required to fund the site-specific infrastructure and what do we now have? A £14m shortfall (one third out of £42m) in county council infrastructure (mainly roads and schools) for which new funding must be sought or, delivery scaled back.

Also, as part of the HDPF, HDC have established an Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) for the period through to 2031. To deliver, this will require just over £37m to be raised by CIL and other means.

In the hearings HDC had to admit that calculations showing a £10m funding shortfall therein were understated by around £8m, giving a revised funding gap of over £18m. Put another way, only marginally over half of the strategic infrastructure needed for the next 20 years or so, can be funded by CIL. So, with the existing £14m shortfall (West of Horsham) together with a further £18m planned shortfall (HDPF-IDP) we have a (known) grand total infrastructure black-hole of £32m.

Never mind, be comforted in the fact that (American owned) Liberty Property Trust’s projected profit of over £119m (out of the almost £718m development) will be secure, regardless as to whether Horsham District ever gets its badly needed infrastructure.


Cox Green, Rudgwick