Plea for upgrades to ‘diabolical’ stretch of A24 north of Horsham

A24 towrds Dorking. Kingsfold, Horsham. Picture : Liz Pearce. LP200914KD18 SUS-140920-193032008
A24 towrds Dorking. Kingsfold, Horsham. Picture : Liz Pearce. LP200914KD18 SUS-140920-193032008

A ‘golden opportunity’ to improve a ‘diabolical’ stretch of the A24 north of Horsham could be missed, according to one resident.

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a new way of securing developer contributions towards infrastructure and a draft charging schedule was approved for consultation by Horsham District Council’s full council at a meeting last Wednesday (February 24).

Excluding the North Horsham development, a district wide charge of £135 per square metre of residential development is proposed and £100 per sqm on retail such as supermarkets, superstores and retail warehousing.

Rudgwick residents Sue and Paul Kornycky questioned why CIL would not be charged on the up to 2,750 homes planned north of the A264.

Gordon Lindsay (Con, Billingshurst and Shipley), cabinet member for the local economy, explained that the North Horsham scheme was rated zero for CIL because a planning application was going to come in before the council implements CIL.

He added: “CIL can’t apply to North of Horsham.”

But Mr Kornycky pointed out that preliminary draft CIL proposals had £50 per square metre at North Horsham, with total CIL and section 106 contributions being £66m, equating to £26,400 per property.

But at the examination hearings for the Horsham District Planning Framework in 2014, the CIL had dropped to nil, while other contributions had also reduced to £50.5m, down to just £20,200 per property.

This was due to abnormal land costs of £12.5m, but the projected landowner profit and developer profit were both unaltered, with infrastructure funding taking the full £15.5m hit from the changes.

He contrasted the situation with the strategic West of Southwater site, where section 106 contributions equating to £33,000 per dwelling had been secured.

Meanwhile Mrs Kornycky said the draft proposals gave ‘minimal detail’ as to why no CIL was being charged on the North Horsham and asked questions over the funding approach for the Horsham parkway railway station.

Jonathan Chowen (Con, Cowfold, Shermanbury and West Grinstead), deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure and culture, explained that the station was an aspiration of the development and not a section 106 requirement.

He said the council would be consistent in its handling of the rival station proposals at North Horsham and at the Kilnwood Vale West of Bewbush development.

Mrs Kornycky also asked why some supporting documents had not yet been published, but Mr Lindsay said they would be available on the website when the consultation began.

Meanwhile Warnham resident Sheila White asked if there were any plans for dualling the A24 north of the town in the foreseeable future as she said it was ‘little better than a country lane’.

By setting CIL at zero for North Horsham, she suggested the council was missing a ‘golden opportunity’ to extract money for improvements to the route from the developer Liberty.

Mr Chowen explained that they could not require a contribution from the developer towards A24 upgrades unless a transport assessment showed improvements were needed to mitigate the impact of the new development.

However he understood that the need for improvements to the A24 was an ‘aspiration held very strongly by members in this room’.

Liz Kitchen (Con, Rusper and Colgate) said: “We have got to try somewhere to ask the officers to help us to improve the A24 which is a diabolical piece of road.”

Mr Lindsay suggested that major schemes for the A24 would need central Government funding.

The draft charging schedule sets out infrastructure types or schemes to be wholly or partly funded by money raised through CIL, while the CIL viability assessment provides justification for the levels of CIL proposed by HDC.

Once the consultation has finished, the amended document will be sent to a CIL examiner and if approved the charging schedule could be adopted as early as October.

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