LETTER: Loss of facility is unacceptable

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The development at the Holbrook Club will mean an unacceptable loss of sports pitches to our community.

The proposal is to build even more houses on about half of the current playing field (how many more houses do we need in Horsham?)

Holbrook is a thriving sports club with approximately 2,000 members serving the local community. No other sports club in Horsham offers the range of indoor/outdoor sports and activities that Holbrook does. The land on which the club resides is owned by Horsham Football Club.

The outdoor playing area, which is well maintained by a professional groundsman, is currently divided into four; two football pitches, one Rugby and an area used for training and for youth football on Saturday mornings. In the middle of this rectangle sits the cricket square, with the cricket pitch comprising part of the other four pitches during the summer cricket season. At the far end of the field is an area used by the archery section.

If this development goes ahead the cricket and one of the football pitches, plus the training area, will be lost.

In my opinion the big losers in all this are the Holbrook football section. They currently run four sides, for which you need two pitches which is what they currently have. In the planning application there is vague talk about hiring a pitch in Horsham park on a Saturday but frankly I think that is just a sop.

How do they get there? Too far away to walk - probably 3K from Holbrook Club. Where do they park? There is very little parking alongside the park or in adjacent streets. They will have to use a pay and display car park and then walk to the pitch.

The park pitches are not maintained to the same high standard as those at Holbrook. The whole playing experience will be diminished for these two teams. The proposed facility at Hop Oast will not be available to Holbrook teams.

Sport England have a mandate to oppose any planning application that removes sports pitches and I trust they will add their weight to opposing this application.

Richard Simmons

Salisbury Road, Horsham

Response from Horsham Football Club:

The two pitches in question at the Holbrook Club (THC) would be replaced by two new, high quality, 3G (all-weather) pitches at the Hop Oast, and so do not mean a loss of pitches to the community. Though acting as the home of Horsham FC, these pitches would be available to the public (not only to members), including Holbrook teams, and would be an excellent and enjoyable playing experience for the towns’ (and the district’s) youth and adult teams. Additionally, Horsham District Council have guaranteed a pitch will be available for Holbrook 3rd and 4th teams at Horsham Park.

The proposed development would, in one move, secure the future of the Holbrook Club (and thus help save the jobs of 40+ members of staff) by providing a long-term lease; provide substantial funds to the Holbrook Club to improve and increase the activities already on offer; maintain the same number of playing pitches to the community; and in addition, offer a brand new and exciting sporting facility to the town at Hop Oast (a home for Horsham FC).

As responsible landlords we have a duty to protect both the Holbrook Club and Horsham FC from potential demise, and the proposed development is the only way we can do so. Whilst no compromise is ever welcomed, the relocation of two pitches seems an acceptable price to pay to secure the long-term future of two such important sporting clubs for our town, and for this we have the full support of the Directors and Management of The Holbrook Club, and hopefully its members too.