Site Specific Allocations of Land (2007)

1 Chapter 1: Introduction

The Local Development Framework

1.1 This document sets out a number of sites that are allocated for development.  It is one of the documents that make up the Local Development Framework for Horsham District, which governs the long-term spatial planning of our area.

1.2 Under the Government's revised planning system, instead of producing a single document called a local plan, the Council is required to prepare a number of local development documents.  These documents set out different aspects of the Council's policies for meeting the community's economic, environmental and social needs for the future of the District where this has an impact on the use of land.  The Local Development Framework is a 'folder' of these documents.

1.3 The Core Strategy is the overarching document in the Local Development Framework.  It sets out a long-term vision of spatial objectives for the District and includes strategic policies that are needed to deliver the vision.  It also indicates broad locations for delivering the housing and other strategic development requirements in accordance with the overall philosophy.  The Core Strategy is normally the first development plan document to be produced and, in the case of this District, the Core Strategy was adopted in February 2007.  It provides the basis for this Site Specific Allocation of Land document, which is intended to provide as much clarity on the proposed way forward as possible.

1.4 In due course the Council will prepare other development plan documents that are intended to be part of the statutory development plan, and supplementary planning documents which expand policies set out in a development plan document or provide additional detail.  The Local Development Framework also includes the Council's Statement of Community Involvement; the Local Development Scheme (the public statement of the Council's programme or timetable, for the production of local development documents), and an annual Monitoring Report (which assesses the implementation of the Local Development Scheme and the extent to which policies in the development plan documents are being achieved - see Chapter 4).

Site Specific Allocations of Land

1.5 This Site Specific Allocations of Land Development Plan Document has been prepared in accordance with the vision, objectives and strategic policies of the Core Strategy.  It reflects the vision and defines it in detail, by identifying specific areas of land for development.  The Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment, which has also been prepared by this Council and forms part of the Local Development Framework, addresses the social, environmental and economic effects of the options for development that have been considered and those that have now been allocated.

1.6 This document sets out how it is intended to meet the more detailed development requirements set out in the Core Strategy beyond the two major strategic development locations.  It explains how these sites have been assessed for development potential, including their sustainability, which is explained further in a background paper, 'Settlement Sustainability and Greenfield Site Allocations'. Policies for the allocation of large sites (over 50 homes) on previously developed land within built-up area boundaries and smaller scale 'greenfield' development for housing and other uses are set out in this document.  The policies set out the critical requirements of the sites together with any specific design and landscape requirements.  In some cases there may be a need for greater policy detail which will be prepared separately in consultation with the local community.  This is discussed further in paragraph 2.18.

1.7 The sites allocated for development are identified on the Proposals Map, which covers the whole District and includes Inset Maps, prepared at a larger scale to show certain areas in more detail.

Community Involvement

1.8 We have previously consulted extensively on issues relating to the future spatial planning of Horsham District and the potential vision and objectives for the area.  In June 2004 we published the 'Planning for Our Future: Issues and Options' preliminary consultation document and sought to involve the community and stakeholders in considering the issues raised.  That document aimed to move the debate on possible approaches forward from more general considerations to the examination of the potential means of delivering the objectives identified.  It set out the suggested ways forward both in terms of site specific proposals and broader policy approaches, on the basis of our evaluation up to that time of the appropriate options.

1.9 A total of over 800 separate responses were received in the consultation period which amounted to around 2,000 individual comments being recorded.  These comments, together with the earlier contributions to assessing the relevant issues, were carefully considered in moving to 'preferred options' for further consultation.  The Sustainability and Strategic Environmental Assessment Draft Final Report prepared by the Council also addressed the social, environmental and economic effects of the initial options considered and those proposed in the 'preferred options'. 

1.10 In February 2005, in the light of the feedback previously given, the Council prepared the 'Preferred Options' Site Specific Allocations of Land document with the aim of giving as much guidance as possible on the preferred options of the Council and the alternatives that had been considered, in order to facilitate public debate on the proposals indicated.  It was made clear that the Council was not committed to the potential allocations for development that were set out in the document and that the consultation represented an opportunity for communities and stakeholders to respond to the suggested 'preferred' options and to bring forward alternatives provided that they were compatible with the intended spatial vision and objectives of the Core Strategy.  It was indicated that we would wish to review the proposals in the light of the further response received and that we may draw different conclusions in the context of the circumstances then prevailing.

1.11 The response to the consultation on the 'Preferred Options' document was extensive.  A total of some 2,330 comments was received on the four documents published (of which a majority were on the Site Specific Allocations of Land document) from over 1,350 individuals and organisations.  These responses were analysed and considered carefully as part of the process for agreeing the context of the 'Submission' Site Specific Allocations of Land document.  A number of the issues raised resulted in further studies being undertaken and led to amendments or additions to the Core Strategy, which were reflected in the 'submission' document.  The examination of the responses directly influenced the content of the 'submission' document, with the deletion of some sites that had been proposed for development and amendments to other site specific allocations of land policies.  A summary analysis of the responses received was produced and is available for information.  In addition, we have prepared a Statement of Compliance (Response to Representations Report) indicating the response to the objections or issues raised, as reflected in the contents of the 'submission' document.  This includes the reasons why individual site allocations were amended or not included in the 'submission' document.

The 'Submission' Document

1.12 Having taken into account all the information gathered and representations received, the Council decided how it intended to proceed and, therefore, the content of the 'Submission' Site Specific Allocations of Land document, in accordance with the Core Strategy.  We accordingly submitted it to the Secretary of State on 4th November 2005 for independent public examination.  We published the necessary notice and invited representations to be made within the specified period of six weeks.  Around 400 representations from organisations and individuals were made within the specified six week period. 

1.13 Some of the representations received sought the inclusion of alternative sites for development, or for the boundaries of a site identified in the document (and indicated on the Proposals Map) to be changed.  We advertised these proposed sites or changes in January 2006, in the Alternative Development Sites and Boundary changes document.  There was then a further period of six weeks for the receipt of representations to be made on these site or boundary changes.  A further 1164 representations were received on the 113 suggested alternative sites and boundary changes.

1.14 The 'Submission' Site Specific Allocations of Land was subject to independent public examination in June/July 2007 in order to test its soundness and to consider representations, on the basis of whether its approach and proposals were sound.  The Inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State to conduct the examination produced a report with recommendations which were binding on the Council.  We have incorporated the changes required by the Inspectors and proceeded to adopt the Site Specific Allocations of Land document, along with the Proposals Map, as formal development plan documents which now form part of the Local Development Framework for the District.