Whenever a new development is proposed, there are good and bad aspects that need to be considered. Sometimes the proposals are awful even though, on strictly planning grounds (as defined by Government and considered by the council), they may not seem as objectionable.
The proposals for what has become known as the Lifestyle Ford site in Horsham may well come into this category. The idea is that the retail area will be set back with access from the Bishops Weald roundabout and car parking spaces fronting onto Albion Way. The developers have sugested that Waitrose might move there although the store has denied it. Either way, another large food convenience store on the west side of the town centre might not be a good idea.
If it does mean Waitrose moving out of Piries Place it could seriously undermine the eastern end of the town centre. This destabilising factor is mentioned in the council’s town plan but is it valid grounds for objection to the proposals? Anyway, if the development is to have a retail area, who can say what type of shop goes there? And how do you stop Waitrose moving out of Piries Place if that is what they want to do?
There are other, incidental, objections to the plans for the Lifestyle Ford site. These include the access from Albion Way, already a very busy road with congestion at times. The fact is that, whatever is done, Albion Way cuts off the new development and Bishopric from the town centre. Ideas of rephasing the traffic lights to make it easier to cross are no more that a palliative.
Putting the development at the back of the site does nothing to improve the street scene in the Bishopric. It looks very much as if the developers are having little regard for the wellbeing and ambiance of Horsham.
And what about the Bishops Weald area on the east side of Albion Way?
This is likely to remain office and/or residential with, perhaps, some shops at ground level.
Perhaps the developers are neglecting the possibilities that this site offers for retail. Then the Lifestyle Ford site could be used for much-needed residential use, as the Town Plan suggests.
This is a problem for us all. Now is the time to consider the implications and let the council planners and councillors know your views even though the formal planning application has not yet been made.