West of Ifield site
West of Ifield site

Due to Coronavirus Homes England held a virtual public presentation of their plans on 14th December 2020 rather than the public event. I had been in discussion with them about holding a public event, run by Talk Ifield, for some time but the restrictions prevented this taking place. The video of the event has now been published and is available here: West of Ifield Autumn Update – YouTube

The presentation did not offer much new information and was interesting as much for what it didn’t say as for what it did. Key points that I noted included:

  • Planning Authority – an acknowledgement that although the site is mostly within Horsham District Council (HDC) area, and HDC will be the planning authority and thus the decision makers, the majority of the impact will be on Crawley.
  • Affordable housing – 35% affordable homes were promised in accordance with the HDC Local Plan (we have 40% in our Crawley Local Plan and have delivered this amount on all major sites since 2015).
  • Jobs – the answer on jobs was vague in the extreme and did not recognise the high numbers of unemployment that we already have, let alone the predictions of Crawley’s unemployed number reaching up to over 50% of the Crawley workforce.
  • Western Link Road – although this was mentioned it did not acknowledge that a line for the route has already been published in their Environmental Impact Assessment submission to HDC – see here for details: Homes England – Environmental Impact Assessment scoping – Crawley Labour Party
  • Transport/Ifield Station – the whole approach to transport for the site is not clearly worked out. I am personally keen to encourage use of sustainable transport, as many of you know I cycle around Crawley on most (normal) days, but I do not see walking and cycling being the key transport for residents of 10,000 new homes. Especially when it was indicated that Ifield station would be improved to support this. They are good objectives but will need local involvement to become realistic, practical and achievable solutions.

Homes England have now published responses to the questions asked at the public engagement event. You can find them here: Homes England – Autumn Engagement Q&A.pdf

They discussed further public engagement events, possibly in February, but with no details. An announcement has now been made saying that they will be delayed due to delays with HDC’s Local plan (apparently delayed until March). They have previously committed to setting up interest groups involving local people, and refer to this in their Q&A document, and I am keen to see them in place with Crawley people on them.

Thank you to everybody that has completed our survey – we have seen a further number arrive recently which I suspect have been driven by the sale of Ifield Golf course to Homes England. If you live in Crawley and haven’t yet completed our survey please complete one here: West of Ifield Survey – Crawley Labour Party

Cllr Peter Smith

Ifield and Ifield West

Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development

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