Agenda item

Cabinet Member Interview

Cabinet Member for Planning and Development


The Cabinet Member for Planning and Development was invited to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee as part of the Cabinet Member interviews.


A number of questions had been submitted in advance of the meeting by Members of the Committee and the answers were presented at the meeting.


Question 1.


How many new build homes were completed within Horsham District in 2017? What percentage of these were affordable homes as a whole? How many homes within Horsham District currently have the benefit of planning permission but have not been built out?




West Sussex County Council provides all districts and boroughs in West Sussex with annual housing completion figures.  These figures are provided in September/October each year and cover the period 1 April to 31 March for the preceding year (ie: for the financial year).  The housing completion figures are reported by West Sussex local authorities in Authority Monitoring Reports (AMR) each December.  The housing completion figures from West Sussex County Council do not include completion dates, so it is not possible to give a housing completion figure for Horsham District for the calendar year of 2017.  Horsham District Council’s AMR for 2016/17 shows that there were 795 net completions between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017, of which 186 (23%) were affordable.  HDC has received draft net housing completion figures for 2017/2018 (1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018) and is currently checking these figures but they are likely to be in excess of 1,000 homes.  These figures will be reported in the 2018 HDC Authority Monitoring Report at the end of this year.


In terms of sites with existing permissions within the District that have not yet been built out, this totals just under 5,100 dwellings.


Question 2.


Where do Neighbourhood Plans sit within the legal framework of dealing with planning applications? Which takes priority, the National Planning Framework, the Horsham District Planning Framework or the Neighbourhood Plans?




Where adopted (or ‘made’), any Neighbourhood Plan, like an adopted Local Plan, becomes part of the formal Development Plan for an area. In Horsham we have a number of ‘made’ neighbourhood plans which sit alongside the Horsham District Planning Framework (our Local Plan), as part of the Council’s formal Development Plan for the area. In legal terms, these two types of plan sit alongside one another. Generally, neither plan takes priority over the other.


The difference between the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plans is that the Local Plan contains strategic policies such as those relating to key policy designations (ie. Green Belt or AONB), the overall development strategy for an area, or policies proposing major new development or infrastructure provision. Neighbourhood Plans only deal with non-strategic ‘local’ matters. Local Plans can of course, also deal with ‘non-strategic’ matters.


Conflicts between plans rarely arise because when examining new Neighbourhood Plans, examiners are careful to ensure that those neighbourhood plans ‘are in general conformity with the strategic policies’ contained within the adopted Local Plan for the area.  However, sometimes, where Local Plans do contain policies relating to non-strategic matters, there can be a lack of clarity about which policy document should take precedence. Where this occurs, case law suggests that generally, the more recently adopted plan may take precedence.


The NPPF is not part of the Development Plan, but its content must be taken into account when preparing both the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plans. It is also a material consideration when making planning decisions. When examining both Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans, planning inspectors will look to ensure that plans take full account of the NPPF, as it is in essence, the Government’s planning policy.


Planning law requires the Council to make planning decisions in accordance with its Development Plan (ie. the combined policy framework of our Local Plan and if they exist, a local Neighbourhood Plan) unless material considerations indicate otherwise.


Where any member feels that there may be a potential conflict between an adopted Neighbourhood Plan policy and an adopted Horsham District Planning Framework policy, it is worth giving one of our planning officers a call, to talk it through, to enable the officer to provide further clarity.



Question 3.


Neighbourhood Plans were put forward by the government to allow local communities to map out their own future development proposals thereby encouraging more homes in addition to the larger strategic sites. When developers put forward planning applications that very clearly contravene policies in those Neighbourhood Plans, why aren’t the Neighbourhood Plans upheld through recommendations to Planning Committees?




Windfall sites within Built-Up Area Boundaries that meet all other Development Management criteria such as overlooking, over bearing, access etc, are in accordance with the adopted policies of the HDPF and can therefore come forward for development.


Question 4.


If the secondary settlement proposals become HDC policy, will the smaller communities, particularly in the rural areas, be swamped with new homes even though they may not be part of Neighbourhood Plans.




No, the proposed policy in the Local Plan Review Consultation document said that any sites within a Secondary Settlement would only be acceptable if the site is small; the proposal is limited in scale to reflect the existing character of the settlement and the development does not result in a significant increase in activity including traffic movements on narrow and rural roads.


Question 5.

If Gypsy and Traveller sites are required across the district, why are these not incorporated within the local Neighbourhood Plans.




We encourage neighbourhood Plan Steering Groups to look at potential for all land uses in the preparation of their plans. To date, there have been no proposals for Gypsy and Traveller use by any Parish.


Question 6.


a) Over the last three years has there been an increase in the number of complaints to HDC with regard to breaches of planning regulations?

b) For this period what is the percentage of complaints that have been upheld?

c) For this period how many Enforcement Notices have been issued and what percentage have been appealed against and how many have been successful.




       In 2016, 569 complaints were received by the Planning Compliance Team;

       In 2017, 589 complaints were received by the Planning Compliance Team;

       So far in 2018, 466 complaints have been received by the Planning Compliance Team (the projected overall number of complaints received for 2018 could be 629- based upon the figure of 163 files received between beginning of Sept and end of Dec last year).


Therefore, yes, there has been an increase in the number of complaints made to Horsham District Council with regard to alleged breaches of planning control over the last three years. 


b)         For this period what is the percentage of complaints that have been upheld?


       In 2016, 317 of the complaints received were founded ie a breach of planning control was identified, which equates to 56% of the complaints received;

       In 2017, 334 of the complaints received were founded ie a breach of planning control was identified, which equates to 57% of the complaints received;

       So far in 2018, 335 of the complaints received were founded ie a breach of planning control was identified, which equates to 72% of the complaints received.



       In 2016, 14 enforcement notices were issued, of which 8 were appealed (57% of Notices)- all 8 appeals were dismissed ie were successful from HDC’s perspective (100% success);

       In 2017, 13 enforcement notices were issued, of which 7 were appealed (54% of Notices)- so far, 4 appeals have been dismissed, and the decision on 3 appeals remains pending (100% success);

       So far in 2018, 14 enforcement notices have been issued, of which 9 have been appealed- the decision on all these appeals remains pending.


Therefore, for the period 2016, 2017 and so far in 2018, 41 enforcement notices have been issued, of which 24 have been appealed (60%)- of the appeals determined, all were dismissed (100% success).


The Committee was invited to submit supplementary questions.

The following questions were asked of the Cabinet Member:


Could the Cabinet Member provide a rough guide of the number of affordable houses that were expected in the excess of 1000 houses being built between April 2017 to March 2018, and could a breakdown of the different types of affordable houses also be provided?


Regarding one particular case, enforcement had not taken place after 18 years which had led to lawful occupation, this had caused frustration for the local Member. The Cabinet Member would follow this up with the compliance team.   


Regarding enforcement complaints, in 2016, 317 valid complaints were received and were 14 of those had been issued with enforcement notices, Members questioned what had happened to the outstanding 303 and was there a pattern with regular offenders?


The Cabinet Member noted the questions and answers would be provided following the meeting.


The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Member for attending the meeting and the Cabinet Member invited the Committee to submit any further question outside the meeting.

Supporting documents: