Further expansion of Billingshurst is ‘not sensible’

Planning
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Further expansion of Billingshurst would not be ‘sensible’ with more than 1,100 homes recently approved - according to the parish council.

On top of the 475 homes approved east of Billingshurst by Horsham District Council in 2013, Crest and Bellway are jointly proposing an extra 700 homes north of the railway line south of the approved scheme.

Bellway has separate plans for an additional 500 units south of the railway line.

The schemes were discussed on the sixth day of examination hearings where the planning inspector is scrutinising HDC’s local housing plan.

Planning consultant Keith Nicholson, speaking on behalf of Billingshurst Parish Council, said: “We would contend that the further expansion of Billingshurst at this time is not sensible.”

He argued the village was not well located to meet the housing needs of the district, was remote from facilities, village centre and main areas of employment, and had ongoing issues over parking at the station and flooding.

Barbara Childs, head of strategic planning and sustainability at HDC, explained they had granted permission for 1,185 homes in Billingshurst and their case was the village was included in its planning framework by virtue of these permissions.

She added: “It’s the council’s belief in order to achieve community cohesion and assimilation of development, further growth in Billingshurst is not required in the five year period before reviewing this plan.”

Meanwhile on Friday extension sites to Crawley were discussed. Developers were lobbying the inspector to include land west of Ifield and 750 homes west of the ongoing Kilnwood Vale development.

During the discussion education was discussed and according to Crawley Borough Council and West Sussex County Council a new secondary school, to be provided within a 2,500-home development north of Horsham, would be for the Horsham district’s own need and homes already planned for Crawley.

Afterwards Horsham district councillor Christian Mitchell (Con, Holbrook West), who has opposed the North Horsham scheme, said: “The North Horsham site is not a sustainable location since pupils from Crawley would need to be bussed in and pupils from Southwater would be doing a 14-mile round trip each day on school buses from their home to the Rusper roundabout at North Horsham.”

He added: “A school on that site would change the school catchment areas for pupils living in Holbrook and Roffey.

“The evidence in the public inquiry from the county officer today was unequivocal and explosive.

“The officer has admitted that a secondary school in that location ‘will’ take pupils from Crawley to meet Crawley’s growing needs. The school proposed is to have eight entry forms.

“This is exactly as we feared and argued the case to be. Clearly the school in that location is not viable.

“Why should Horsham’s green fields in the strategic gap be used to build this enormous eight-form entry secondary school with sixth form college to take pupils from Crawley? This will lead to coalescence of the towns and ‘Crawsham’.”