The people of Southwater, and certainly Keep Southwater Green, have a good deal of sympathy with the efforts of RAGE and the people who live in and around the area of proposed development to the north of Horsham. Remember we have suffered development on a similar scale in the recent past.
We know only too well what an emotive issue it is for those involved. We are however, concerned that over-dramatic statements and gross inaccuracies are being put forward which we fear will damage rather than help their cause, and we feel that we have to set the record straight in so far as these relate to Southwater.
First the statement that implied that Councillor Vickers had given KSG a guarantee that there would be no further building if the village accepted 500 houses now.
This is totally untrue. We were always aware that such a guarantee was not hers to give. The actual situation is that within the proposed plan Southwater has been allocated about 500 houses and, IF this plan is finally adopted, then it would mean
that further development in Southwater would be very unlikely for the life of the plan because such development would be contrary to legally endorsed planning policy. The same potential limitation to the stated numbers, for the life of the plan, could of course be equally applicable in the north of Horsham area.
Second is the statement that a secondary school is needed in Southwater now. I have previously written to RAGE and explained that this is not so, so I am disappointed that it continues to be said.
West Sussex County Council published written confirmation last December that this was not the case and we received written confirmation that nothing had changed earlier this summer. Only when it is finally known where the largest centres of development are going to be can the question of where a new secondary school should be sited be properly addressed.
Third the statement that Southwater has available land for building that is either brown field or surplus to requirements and ready for development.
This is total nonsense and appears to be deliberately misleading. The situation is that in 2009 Berkeley Homes began to advocate large scale development on and around Great House Farm to the west of the village. This land is owned by absentee landlords and has been tenanted and well farmed by the Charman family for nearly 200 years. They have a long lease and no wish to leave the farm.
They currently rear and sell high quality beef as a family business.
The application foundered when the farm house was recognised by English Heritage as being of exceptional architectural interest and we have campaigned strongly over the last four years to make all parties understand that the whole area is an integral part of the architectural, historical and cultural heritage of the village.
Both Berkeley Homes and the district council seem now to appreciate this.
The current proposal for 500 homes avoids the farm and the listed buildings and will be placed upon the last land which can conceivably be developed in a village which has suffered more development than almost any other comparable community in the last 25 years.
Please, RAGE, fight your corner but respect the problems of the other communities and above all make sure your facts are accurate.
Dr IAN THWAITES
Keep Southwater Green, Marlhurst, Southwater