A new home for a Horsham town centre car showroom was secured by the council last week at a vacant site in Broadbridge Heath.
Lifestyle Ford, currently based in the Bishopric, will move to the old Citroen/Peugeot garage next to the Shell petrol station off the Farthings Hill Roundabout, which has been empty since Christmas.
The business is relocating to make way for a £35m redevelopment of a new West End for the town centre, which is being spearheaded by Westrock and will include a new Waitrose.
Horsham District Council’s Development Control North Committee agreed to the new dealership, including showrooms, workshop facilities, offices, and MOT facilities, subject to the completion of a legal agreement.
However some members felt that since the site was a gateway into both Broadbridge and Horsham town the design should be more in keeping with its surroundings.
Malcolm Curnock (LDem, Broadbridge Heath) called the structure ‘bland’ and ‘plain’, and while he did not want to delay the application, he thought it presented an opportunity to make it into something that looked attractive.
He said: “I do not think this is a building that is sympathetic to its surroundings or its position as a gateway.”
Peter Burgess (Con, Holbrook West) added: “I would agree entirely with the local member. I think we need to remember this is part of the plans around the new Waitrose so it is important this is done, but it’s important to get it right.”
He continued: “I think at this site there is an ideal opportunity to build something really nice and that is not nice and I do not like it.”
But Roy Cornell (Con, Roffey South) said it was a like for like application as the car dealership had been in existence for years.
Ian Howard (Con, Southwater) added his support and said: “It will look better than the hotchpotch that is there at the moment.”
Officers confirmed that the glazed panel structure was typical of high quality car showrooms.
Christine Costin (LDem, Trafalgar) added: “I do not see why showrooms for cars can’t be made to look better than what we are asking to look at here. It needs some imagination.”
It was agreed that under the delegation period discussions would take place with developers over the design.