The Tories brought a motion to CBC Full Council on 20th October 2021 calling on the Council to take various actions to oppose the Homes England proposals to develop 10,000 homes on Crawley’s border known as the ‘West of Ifield’ development. Surprisingly, the Tories did not seem to be aware that all of the actions that they requested had already been carried out by Labour led Crawley Borough Council. This was despite communications and updates having been issued to all Councillors by the council officers including the Chief Executive.
Cllr Peter Smith, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development proposed that the motion be amended. This is his speech to Council:
‘We have opposed the Homes England proposals to build 10,000 homes on Crawley’s boundaries to the West of Ifield from the outset.
Our Chief Executive wrote to all Councillors on 30th July 2019 bringing this to members attention – of course I recognise that several members were not on the council at that time.
We wrote to Homes England in October 2019 with a complete list of ‘asks’ or requirements and we also amended our draft Local Plan to include a specific section identifying these asks so that everything was clearly laid out and in the public domain.
We have had various meetings with Homes England since then and I have attended the public ‘briefings’ that Homes England have setup for residents. At all meetings we consistently put Crawley’s case to Homes England.
We have been in constant dialogue with Horsham District council at both the officer and member levels. Our forward planning officers meet regularly with their counterparts in Horsham as part of the normal Local plan development process affecting both authorities, and of course, to work through the Duty to Cooperate requirements.
Both the Leader and I have met several times with our counter-parts in Horsham and I have regular meetings with Horsham’s Cabinet member – two Cabinet members actually as there has recently been a change.
At all meetings and contacts with both Homes England and Horsham District council leadership we have made our opposition to the proposals clear in the strongest possible terms.
So, we have opposed the Government agency Homes England proposals from the outset and have made it very clear to them and to Horsham at every meeting or event – which is exactly what this motion asks us to do.
In conclusion – our minor amendments simply recognise that we have been doing what the motion proposes since 2019 and that we plan to continue to do that going forward.
I do hope that all members of the Council will support this amendment so that we have a joint and clear statement of this Council’s opposition to Homes England’s proposals and a commitment to continue to speak up for Crawley in all interactions with Homes England and Horsham District Council.’
Rather bizarrely the Tories then opposed our amendments, despite the fact that they were minor and simply correcting incorrect information in their proposals, and then voted for the substantive (amended) motion. All Councillors voted for the motion and so we now have a very clear statement of our position ‘on the record’.
This is the full text of the adopted motion:
‘Crawley Borough Council formally re-states its strongest possible opposition to the Homes England proposal to build up to 10,000 new homes to the west of Ifield/Crawley.
The Council congratulates the administration for having written some time ago to both Homes England and Horsham District Council on behalf of the council’s entire membership, to set out the full range of concerning impacts for Crawley and the environment, including infrastructure pressures, that this development would create,
and seeking both maximum mitigation measures and ongoing influence for Crawley throughout the entire process, in order to protect Crawley’s interests.’
Any Crawley resident that wishes to comment on the Homes England proposals can complete our West of Ifield survey.
Cllr Peter Smith
Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development