Horsham District Council has announced it has ‘entered an agreement’ with developers planning to create a new market town between Horsham and Mid Sussex.
In 2013 proposals were drawn up by developers Mayfield Market Towns looking to build 10,000 new homes on land between Sayers Common and Henfield.
The scheme faced huge backlash from residents, councils and even local MPs with many landowners refusing to sell their land to the developers.
Horsham District Council said as part of its Local Plan review process a number of developers seeking to carry out large-scale developments in the district had ‘sought detailed discussion with the planning department’.
The developers behind the Mayfields scheme was one of these and a ‘Planning Performance Agreement’ - allowing the council to ‘consider information’ submitted to them by developers - was struck.
A council spokesman explained: “A number of developers are promoting large scale opportunities through the Local Plan review process and are seeking detailed discussions with the planning department over the next few months. This is so that officers have all the necessary information on the deliverability of the sites to inform Members and the community as part of the decision making on the future strategy for the district.
“Mayfield Market Towns is one such developer and the District Council has recently received a pre-application query from them. The request is for a formal opportunity for discussions which are intended to help planning officers fully examine the promoters proposals in greater detail. These discussions are a normal part of the planning process and are undertaken by council officers on a ‘without prejudice’ basis.
“The agreement is called a Planning Performance Agreement. It is not a legally binding contract and it neither commits the District Council to allocating the site in the Local Plan review nor does it indicate that any future planning application will be looked on favourably. What it does commit the District Council planning officers to do is to consider the information submitted to them by the promoters of a site, in this instance Mayfield Market Town, and within an agreed time span.
“The Mayfield’s site is not allocated for development and cannot be supported in principle as it is contrary to the adopted Local Plan. The Council will need to assess this site however, along with all others being promoted by developers, for potential inclusion in the Local Plan review. The Local Plan review preferred strategy is due to be published for consultation in autumn 2019.”
Both South Downs MP Nick Herbert and Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames condemned the plans and expressed their disappointment over the council’s recent decision. Mayfields plans are ‘wholly unsuitable’
Mayfields has welcomed the council’s decision to ‘test the deliverability’ of its proposals after claiming a planning inspector said the site ‘could be appropriate’ for the development.