Draft Horsham District Local Plan 2019-2036

Chapter 4 Policies for Growth and Change (Key Questions)

4.1 Chapter Three identifies the vision, spatial objectives and the overarching strategy which is proposed to deliver sustainable development in Horsham District up to 2036.  The policies in this chapter set out the overarching approach by which development proposals will be considered within the context of delivering sustainable development.  In particular, they take account of the following issues:

  • The national agenda is to bring forward a ‘step change’ in housing growth. There is a wider need to ensure that the houses we provide are high quality and available to everyone.
  • Our high-quality environment makes Horsham District an attractive place to live and work, and is why many people and businesses want to move here. There is, however, a need to continue to protect the character of the District, which makes the area so desirable.
  • Ongoing population growth is likely to place increasing pressure on local, neighbourhood, District and strategic level services and facilities, and there is a need to ensure that these can respond to these changing demands.
  • The amount of brownfield land in the District is relatively limited, but there is still a need to prioritise this land for development where possible.
  • Building new settlements, urban extensions and expanding existing small settlements may affect the character and community balance.


4.2 The District is an attractive area and is a place where many people choose to live and work. In addition, existing communities continue to grow.  This will result in development pressure for houses, employment and a range of services and facilities. Existing services may also need to be improved or expanded in response to these pressures. In order to ensure that this growth and change can take place, the policies in this chapter set out a hierarchy in which development can take place, with the priority on locating new homes, jobs, facilities and services in Horsham and where appropriate the smaller towns and villages, particularly through the re-use of previously developed land.

4.3 It should be noted that West Sussex County Council is responsible for preparing statutory land use plans for minerals and waste.  Proposals for development should have regard to the defined County Minerals Safeguarding Area and Minerals Consultations Area guidance and policy produced by West Sussex County Council. Preparation of site plans will require liaison with West Sussex County Council at an early stage to ensure that any potential minerals and waste interests are fully considered in planning development.

Strategic Policy 1 - Sustainable Development

4.4 This is the model policy that is recommended to be included in all Local Plans to ensure that they are compliant with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  It should be noted that the final bullet point of this policy relates to development which could impact the setting of the South Downs National Park and the High Weald AONB.

Strategic Policy 1 - Sustainable Development

When considering development proposals, the Council will take a positive approach that reflects the presumption in favour of sustainable development contained in the National Planning Policy Framework.  It will always work pro-actively with applicants to find solutions which mean that proposals can be approved wherever possible, and to secure development that improves the economic, social and environmental conditions in the area.

Planning applications that accord with the policies in this Local Plan (and where relevant, with policies in neighbourhood plans) will be approved without delay, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

Where there are no policies relevant to the application, or relevant policies are out of date at the time of making the decision, then the Council will grant permission, unless material considerations indicate otherwise - taking into account whether

  • Any adverse impacts of granting permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the National Planning Policy Framework taken as a whole; or
  • Specific policies in that Framework indicate that development should be restricted.

Strategic Policy 2 - Development Hierarchy and Settlement Expansion

4.5 The District has a distinctive settlement pattern.  Horsham town is the main settlement, and is surrounded by a network of smaller towns and villages and the rural countryside. It is necessary for this plan to continue to ensure that development takes place in a manner that protects, retains and enhances the rural landscape character of the District, but still enables settlements to grow and thrive.  Whilst it is recognised that there is considerable pressure for development in Horsham District, which may require the expansion of settlements and the provision of a new settlement, this must be carefully managed.  The mechanism by which this will be achieved is through the designation of built-up area boundaries (sometimes referred to as ‘BUAB').

4.6 It is recognised that the land outside the built-up areas within Horsham District is not uniformly undeveloped farmland.  It includes a number of small hamlets and villages that are defined as ‘unclassified settlements.’  These settlements lack a significant level of services and facilities, and are therefore not a sustainable location for large scale development, but have nevertheless been recognised as having potential for some limited development when compared with entirely undeveloped countryside. The identification of ‘secondary settlements’ through this Local Plan review seeks to address this by allowing some limited flexibility, and allows for small-scale organic growth within these settlements.

4.7 Within built-up area boundaries and secondary settlement boundaries (‘SSB’), development is accepted in principle, whereas land outside these boundaries is considered to be in the countryside and development will be more strictly controlled. The designation of built-up area boundaries and secondary settlement boundaries is based on an assessment of the role of a settlement and how it functions.  It incorporates a range of factors including access to employment, the presence of services and facilities including schools, shops and health care, accessibility (including public transport) and community cohesiveness, including local clubs and organisations. For secondary settlements, it also takes account of settlement characteristics such as form, density and historic character.

4.8 The priority will be to locate appropriate development, including infilling, redevelopment and conversion within the built-up area boundaries for towns, larger villages and smaller villages, with a focus on previously developed (or ‘brownfield’) land. All development proposals will need to be of a scale and nature that can retain the character and role of the settlement in terms of the range of services and facilities and community cohesion.

Strategic Policy 2 - Development Hierarchy

Development will be permitted within towns and villages that have defined built-up area boundaries, as defined on the Policies Map, including on any suitable previously developed land.  Any infilling and redevelopment will be required to demonstrate that it is of an appropriate nature and scale to maintain the characteristics and function of the settlement in accordance with the settlement hierarchy below.

Development will be permitted in secondary settlements, provided also that it falls entirely within the secondary settlement boundary as defined on the Policies Map, and meets all of the following criteria:

  1. the site is a small gap or plot within an otherwise built-up or cohesive settlement form;
  2. the proposal is limited in scale to reflect the existing scale and character of the settlement function and form; 
  3. the development does not result in significant increase in activity including traffic movements on narrow and rural roads.

Settlement Hierarchy

Settlement Type

Settlement Characteristics and Function


Main Town

Settlement with a large range of employment, services and facilities and leisure opportunities, including those providing a district function.  Strong social networks, with good rail and bus accessibility. The settlement meets the majority of its own needs and many of those in smaller settlements.


Small Towns and Larger Villages

These are settlements with a good range of services and facilities, strong community networks and local employment provision, together with reasonable rail and/or bus services.  The settlements act as hubs for smaller villages to meet their daily needs, but also have some reliance on larger settlements or each other to meet some of their own requirements.

  • Billingshurst
  • Bramber
  • Broadbridge Heath
  • Henfield
  • Partridge Green
  • Pulborough and Codmore Hill
  • Southwater
  • Steyning
  • Storrington & Sullington*
  • Upper Beeding

Medium Villages

These settlements have a moderate level of services, facilities and community networks, together with some access to public transport.  These settlements provide some day-to-day needs for residents, but rely on small market towns and larger settlements to meet a number of their requirements.

  • Ashington
  • Barns Green
  • Cowfold
  • Rudgwick and Bucks Green
  • Slinfold
  • Thakeham (The Street and High Bar Lane)
  • Warnham
  • West Chiltington and West Chiltington Common

Smaller Villages

Villages with limited services, facilities, social networks but with good accessibility to larger settlements (e.g. road or rail) or settlements with some employment but limited services, facilities or accessibility. Residents are reliant on larger settlements to access most of their requirements.


  • Christ's Hospital
  • Lower Beeding
  • Mannings Heath
  • Rusper
  • Small Dole

Secondary settlements

Very small villages and hamlets that generally have some limited local employment, services or facilities (which may include primary schools, allotments, village halls, playing fields, or a church) and/or evidence of a defined local community.  Proximity and access to other services, facilities and employment is also taken into account. Additionally, settlement character is material, for example form, density, age and historic character of dwellings, and the overall sense that one has left the open countryside and entered a defined village community.

  • Adversane
  • Ashurst
  • Blackstone
  • Colgate
  • Coolham
  • Crabtree
  • Dial Post
  • Faygate
  • Ifield
  • Kingsfold
  • Littleworth
  • Maplehurst
  • Monks Gate
  • Nutbourne
  • Nuthurst
  • Shermanbury
  • Shipley

Unclassified Settlements

Settlements with few or no facilities or social networks and limited accessibility, that are reliant on other villages and towns to meet the needs of residents.

 All other settlements


* This does not include the hamlet of Sullington, which is located entirely within the South Downs National Park




Strategic Policy 3 - Settlement Expansion

4.9 In addition to built-up areas, it is recognised that in order for some communities to continue to be able to grow and develop it will be necessary for them to be able to expand beyond their current built form.  The UK planning system is plan-led and by allocating sites in the Local Plan or in Neighbourhood Plans, it will be possible to meet the identified local needs of these settlements and provide an appropriate level of affordable and market housing, as well as maintaining the viability of the smaller villages and towns, for example supporting local schools and local shops.  This policy will also ensure that the settlement function and pattern of the District is retained, keeping the rural character of the District beyond these settlements.  It is recognised that to meet the government's step change in housing numbers, a new settlement may also be required.  The allocation and policy principles for any such development will be set out under a relevant policy allocation.

Strategic Policy 3 - Settlement Expansion

The growth of settlements across the District will continue to be supported in order to meet identified local housing, employment and community needs.  Outside built-up area boundaries, the expansion of settlements will be supported where all of the following criteria are met:

  1. The impact of the development individually or cumulatively does not prejudice comprehensive long-term development, in order not to conflict with the development strategy; and
  2. The development is demonstrated to meet the identified local housing needs and/or employment needs or will assist the retention and enhancement of community facilities and services;
  3. The level of expansion is appropriate to the scale and function of the settlement type;
  4. The site is allocated in the Local Plan or in a Neighbourhood Plan and adjoins an existing settlement edge;
  5. The development is contained within an existing defensible boundary and the landscape and townscape character features are maintained and enhanced.



Strategic Policy 4 - Horsham Town

4.10 Horsham town is the main commercial gateway to the District.  It offers a winning fusion of heritage and quality modern living, and provides an excellent place for businesses, a highly educated workforce and a good employment offer.  As the main centre for the District, Horsham acts as a ‘hub’ for a number of smaller towns and villages in the surrounding area.  It also serves the area beyond the District as a shopping destination and an attractive place to visit and do business.

4.11 This policy seeks to retain the attractive characteristics of the town, whilst enabling it to grow positively.  This will ensure the town retains a vibrant economic role within the District, Gatwick Diamond and the wider south east economy.

Strategic Policy 4 - Horsham Town

To promote the prosperity of Horsham town and maintain and strengthen its role as the primary economic and cultural centre in the District, and the wider economic area, development will be allowed within the built-up area of Horsham where it:

  1. Retains the town's key position as the main settlement within the District whilst protecting the unique characteristics of the town, including the historic character and high quality environment.
  2. Contributes to the provision of a range of services and facilities, including those in arts, heritage and leisure that make the town self-sustaining.
  3. Contributes to the economy of the town to support a vibrant high street and town centre that meets local and business demands, as well as supporting the wider economy including the Gatwick Diamond, and the economy of the south east including;
  1. the provision of a wide range of employment
  2. retaining and enhancing the unique retail mix to meet both independent and national retailers requirements
  3. contribution to the evening economy through the provision of a range of leisure uses.
  1. Promotes high quality transport infrastructure which enables excellent pedestrian, cycling, bus, rail and vehicle accessibility for residents, visitors and business employees;
  2. Delivers a mix of residential properties that meets the needs of the population and contributes to quality modern living that is compatible with a town centre setting.
  3. Retains, enlarges or enhances the existing formal and informal green spaces within the town.

Strategic Policy 5 - Broadbridge Heath Quadrant

4.12 This policy recognises the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant as a redevelopment opportunity area to form part of and complement other redevelopment in Horsham town, in order to benefit Horsham District and secure the vitality and vibrancy of Horsham town as a whole.

4.13 Broadbridge Heath Quadrant is formed of the existing Broadbridge Heath retail park and land north of this. It includes the West Sussex County Council Depot, Tesco Superstore, Horsham Indoor Bowls Centre and The Bridge leisure centre. 

4.14 The area also sits adjacent to two recently strategic development sites: Wickhurst Green, which is now complete, and Highwood Village, where development is ongoing. Development within the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant should take account of the important relationship with this area of new residential development and should aim to meet these additional local needs as well as those of the wider area. The Quadrant is identified as a strategically significant area of opportunity where regeneration proposals will be brought forward in conjunction with community aspirations. It is, however, important that any development that does take place does not detract from the primacy of Horsham Town Centre as the main centre for the District as a whole as well as more locally. 

4.15 Early engagement with stakeholders including the Parish Council, landowners and users of the Quadrant should take place. This policy should be read alongside any policies relating to Horsham town centre. 

Strategic Policy 5: Broadbridge Heath Quadrant

Broadbridge Heath Quadrant is an Opportunity Area where redevelopment will be required to reinforce its its role as a successful out of town retail location;


  1. Development on this site will provide an alternative mix of uses, which could include additional retail use as well as leisure, residential, hotel and convenience eating places, which will better provide for local needs, complement the provisions for the new communities  in Wickhurst Green and Highwood Village and enhance and complement the primacy of the existing and future offer of Horsham town centre.
  2. Development will enhance provision for local needs and accessibility by improving connectivity and achieving better integration with adjoining new communities in the area.
  3. Development should embrace the highest standards of sustainable design and construction in relation to local and national sustainability policies and guidance. Development must also make best use of significant existing environmental features and to include innovative sustainable design solutions utilising best practise in renewable or low carbon energy and green infrastructure.
  4. Broadbridge Heath Quadrant should be enhanced as an attractive, enjoyable, convenient and well laid out setting providing a high quality and sustainable environment with a positive public realm, strong, legible connections and high quality architectural and landscape design.

Retail development and other main town centre uses

  1. Any proposed retail development shall ensure that it enhances and does not adversely affect, the current and future vitality and viability of Horsham town centre and contributes towards achieving the wider objectives for the regeneration of this opportunity area.
  2. Any proposed development for main town centre uses within Broadbridge Heath Quadrant which on its own, or cumulatively, reaches a threshold of an additional 500sqm will need to demonstrate that it will not have an adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Horsham town centre. This should include an assessment of the impact on existing, committed and planned public and private investment in the town centre.
  3. Expansion of the ground floorplate of the existing foodstore and other enhancements may be acceptable provided  that convenience floorspace remains the predominant use (together with supporting comparison floorspace and retail distribution facilities). 
  4. Redevelopment for larger retail units with extended floorplates selling bulky goods, where appropriate provision cannot be made in or immediately adjacent to Horsham town centre, may be acceptable under 5).

Accessibility, connectivity and circulation

  1. To maximise the site’s accessibility by a range of alternative means of travel to the car, development must improve existing, and create new, pedestrian and cycle connections both within the site and from the surrounding area. Development should support the use of public transport including improvements to reinforce linkages locally and into Horsham town centre.
  2. It will remain important to maintain and enhance the accessibility of Broadbridge Heath Quadrant from the surrounding area by car, and to rationalise the circulation of car and delivery vehicles to maximise the economic potential and the efficiency of the site.
  • Do you agree with the draft policies in this section?
  • If not, what changes would you suggest?