Horsham District Council, Crawley Borough Council and Chichester District Council have all received a Position Statement from Natural England relating to water usage. This is a material consideration for planning decisions the Council’s make.

Horsham is located in an area of serious water stress with water being supplied by Southern Water from its Sussex North Water Resource Zone. This water supply is sourced from various abstraction points in the Arun Valley, which incudes a number of SSSIs and Special Areas of Conservation and Protection.  Natural England has stated it cannot confirm the existing abstraction is not having an impact on Arun Valley sites and so it has advised that development within this zone must not add to this impact.

What does this mean? Essentially, Horsham District Council are now unable to approve applications unless the applicant can show the scheme is ‘water neutral’ and does not result in significant effect.  Most householder development applications are being determined normally as well as very minor schemes, as they will not have a significant effect on the Arun Valley sites.

If a development submission has potential to increase water consumption, Horsham District Council is now requiring an accompanying ‘water neutrality statement’ to set out the strategy for achieving water neutrality within the development.

Due to the significance of this matter, Horsham District Council will allow time for water neutrality strategies to be produced and submitted, where the issue of water neutrality is the only outstanding matter preventing planning permission being granted.

It is recommended, that anyone with a current application or thinking of submitting an application should read the Natural England Position Statement in full. Please contact Bloomfields if you require any further advice or have a planning application that is affected.