Extra reason to refuse 83 Billingshurst homes added

Horsham District Council has added water neutrality concerns to its reasons for refusing plans for 83 homes east of Billingshurst.

An application, from Reside Developments Ltd, to build on land at Duckmoor, was turned down in April 2021.

Planning officers said its location outside the built-up area boundary – and on a site not allocated for development – was ‘unacceptable’.

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Since then, an appeal has been launched – and officers no longer believe the reasons for refusal will be enough to tip the result in the council’s favour.

Proposed development site

During a meeting of the planning committee on Tuesday (April 26), members were asked to drop the original reasons and instead defend the appeal on the grounds that the development had not been

demonstrated to be water neutral.

This did not sit well with the majority of the committee, though, and they voted to keep all the original reasons as well as the water neutrality concerns.

Chris Brown (Con, Billingshurst) said the original reasons for refusal were ‘still valid’.

He added: “Surely the more in our armoury the better – the more ammunition we have the better.”

Water neutrality became a major planning issue in September after Natural England published a position statement about the increasing demand on water supplies and the impact it was having on wildlife and habitats.

The Horsham District, which was identified by the Environment Agency as being in an area of serious water stress, is supplied by Southern Water from its Sussex North Water Resource Zone.

Essentially, the fear is that the current rate of water abstraction – the process of taking water from surface or underground sources – is having an impact on protected sites in the Arun Valley.

To view the application, log on to public-access.horsham.gov.uk and search for DC/20/2607.