LETTER: Strong objection to north Horsham development

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I strongly object to the proposal to develop North Horsham as part of Horsham District Council’s Preferred Strategy. There is no reason to build here.

· This proposal is not a consultation with residents, as the alternatives have not been included. We have been presented with only one option; however, there are numerous alternatives, which have been suddenly thrown out of consideration.

· This proposal was released in August, when many people are away and unable to object. Only two additional weeks were granted for receipt of objections to a scheme which changes our town forever. This is not acceptable to residents!

The North Horsham site (Greenfield lands adjacent to the A264) is a poor option amongst many suitable sites and is land which should not be developed until all the other alternative sites in the district have been occupied to full capacity along with HDC owned lands.

There is no economic or town planning sense here. This proposal is politically motivated. If built, this plan will forever destroy Horsham and vicinity. There are obviously better, easily deliverable sites.

The previous preferred site of Southwater (constituency of Cllr. Claire Vickers, where she also resides) was suddenly abandoned in favour of North Horsham when Cllr. Vickers took over as local Cabinet Minister for Living and Working Communities, earlier this year. At the same time, residents were excluded from Strategic Planning Advisory Group (SPAG) meetings. Therefore, residents have been in the dark about this proposal until it went into consultation at the end of July. The newly proposed site is the last remaining Greenbelt for Horsham and the Strategic Gap between Horsham and Crawley.

The predecessors of the current members of HDC (Martin Pearson’s Council) made a pledge that the A264 will be the northern boundary of Horsham, at the time of its construction, and that the land above will be the Strategic Gap separating Horsham and Crawley and allowing each town to have a unique identity. As a resident, I expect this pledge to be kept.

Two documents (200+ pages) were released in mid-August when many people are on holiday. Only two additional weeks were granted for objections.

The long, difficult to read documents state little of substance and do not outline important issues, such as the train problems. If a new station is built, this will result in the closure of Faygate station and the loss of essential train services at Littlehaven along with all fast trains at Littlehaven cancelled. This would result in other costs to existing local residents (cost of car purchase, parking, fuel) to access the proposed new station. If a new station is not built, there will be intolerable pressure upon Littlehaven and Warnham/Faygate, along with parking mayhem nearby, and impossible congestion on the A264.

The document does not inform residents of North Horsham, Old Holbrook and Roffey about the loss of catchment area for Millais and Forest schools and about being forcibly moved into catchment area for the new school across the A264. Most residents are still not informed about the other issues here, such as the proposed 500,000ft industrial estate (without any confirmed interest from any large business interested in moving to the area – and it would take more than one very large business to fill up 500,000ft) and the plan for five underpasses under the A264 as well as other significant aspects of this unsuitable site, which suddenly became “preferred” by Mrs.Vickers, despite obvious issues.

There are several other more suitable sites to choose from which are not riddled with problems, large sites and a plethora of small sites.

A build on these other sites does not merge Horsham and Crawley. There are large sites within the town boundary which have not been considered to-date at all, despite some of these being already owned by HDC and being very valuable land, in particular with planning permission or likelihood of thereof (the sites include Rookwood Golf course, Searle’s Yard, and others).

There are numerous good sites available across all of Horsham district. None of the appraisals investigated by HDC considered a solution that spreads the additional housing across the district:

Southwater

An obvious unremarkable brownfield site, within a modern community, which was obviously destined for growth from its inception. People moving into modern communities with large brownfield sites all around should have a reasonable expectation of more building in their area, unlike people living in contained, historic villages or next to greenfields. Southwater needs a new secondary school, which will be provided along with new homes there.

This site in Southwater is easily deliverable for 2750 homes, additional amenities and the needed new Secondary school. The site is very well serviced by a new, modern village centre, a library, a large surgery, a park-and-ride, and it has the benefit of options for access via several roads.

Southwater village center was re-built in 2006 at the cost of about £25 million and is an excellent amenity, able to accommodate more residents. There is also a substantial County park, with a large lake, café, recreational facilities, boat rental, etc. The proposal at Southwater from Berkeley Homes also comes with an offer to build a Secondary school, which is needed in the area.

Approximately 1000 (and growing!) children are bussed in daily from Southwater to Horsham to go to secondary school. With Mrs Vickers sudden decision to build no more than 500 homes, secondary School children will be bussed in to Horsham for the next 20 years, causing carbon waste and unnecessary Council expense!

Building a new school in North Horsham will not alleviate the problem of a needed school for Southwater. Building on the fields North of Horsham only disrupts functioning catchment areas, on which local parents rely, to this date having not been informed of this aspect of the plan.

Chesworth Farm

This site is already owned by HDC and is inside the town boundary. There is room for some development next to Kerves Lane without disrupting the essential function of Chesworth Farm. There will still be plenty of recreational space and parkland. The site would benefit from being made more accessible to people of all ages and abilities. HDC should work on a plan acceptable to local residents.

Rookwood Golf Course

This site has not been considered at all - even though it is owned by HDC and is inside the town boundary with easy access from the town. The site does not require underpasses for cyclists or pedestrians. It is a very valuable site, bringing no profit to HDC. Local amenities and schools can grow gently to accommodate new residents there, without disrupting urban fabric.

The sale of this site would provide the funds HDC needs for essential and overdue projects, including negotiating purchases of derelict real-estate inside the town for additional housing or other buildings, a prime example of a site that HDC should considering the future of is Searle’s Yard (a large, prime site in the centre of town). Rookwood Golf course does not need to be concreted over but can provide a large area for pleasant housing and parkland, in particular there is enough land to create a park and walking areas adjacent to the sensitive Warnham reserve. It is a large site owned by HDC- a valuable source of funds, in a particular with planning permission. The site is currently unprofitable.

Site has access to the town centre via Warnham Road,and direct access to the A24 and A264. There are many Golf Courses already in our area: Rusper, Mannings Heath, Horsham Golf and Fitness, Slinfold.

Searle’s Yard

Prime real-estate within reach of town transport and amenities by foot. HDC should inquire about the possibility of the purchase of this site from current owner or encourage a suitable developer to do so. If funds are needed, there is an obvious way to fund this necessary and long-overdue project by the sale of lands at Chesworth Farm and Rookwood Golf Course.

Novartis site

Novartis has reduced their operations here and the future of that site, including the houses to be built there must be included in any proposal.

Fire Station Site

The Fire department is moving to a site on the A24. HDC must provide a plan for the redevelopment of Hurst Road lands alongside any proposal – these are significant size areas, which should be re-planned for in liaison with the Post Office and other companies.

Lands adjacent to the Railways

As above. HDC must liaise with CPR rail on the future of the wasted lands near the railways.

As a concerned resident of Horsham, I ask that the council:

· STOP the proposal to waste the Greenfields North of Horsham on a 500,000ft industrial estate, to merge Horsham and Crawley. I do not want to live next to an immense industrial estate – I want to live in a functioning, safe community with usable roads, good train links, and sustainable environment.

· STOP the move to destroy functioning school catchment areas whilst depriving another area of a much-needed school, creating carbon waste and expense.

· STOP the proposal to destroy the safety on our streets with five underpasses, to create intolerable congestion on the A264 (no traffic survey appears to have been done), and to disrupt and cause cancellation of the essential services at Littlehaven or to put intolerable pressure on Littlehaven and Warnham Stations and to cause parking mayhem on nearby streets.

· STOP your proposed plans to develop North Horsham as part of Horsham District Council’s Preferred Strategy, as there are better options available. As a resident of the local Horsham community, I strongly object to these plans.

Lloyd Hunter

Marlborough Close, Horsham