David Moore: Base our Local Plan on fact, not fiction

Horsham Society
Horsham Society

One of the problems that we face when deciding where new homes should be built is that little thought seems to be given to the necessary improvements that are required to the infrastructure, in particular primary healthcare.

It’s as if there’s a belief that our existing GP surgeries can take an ever increasing number of patients and, if that’s not the case, a belief that new doctors grow on trees.

The recent proposal by the CCG stirred up a hornets’ nest by suggesting that three of our town centre surgeries could merge and move to a new purpose built surgery in Broadbridge Heath.

Why should existing patients at the three practices travel to Broadbridge Heath to see their doctor? The idea’s based on Horsham District Council’s latest plan for the new leisure centre, which shows a large bolt-on surgery as part of the proposed development.

When the West of Horsham development was included within the local plan for Horsham district it was obvious that the shortage of doctors in the immediate area was going to be a problem.

It should have been resolved before the 2007 Core Strategy was agreed but it seems to have been assumed that the problem would sort itself out. It hasn’t and that’s why we’re in the mess that we’re in.

Now wind the clock forward. Let’s assume that the proposed north of Horsham development goes ahead. It’s obvious that it would be Horsham’s next healthcare problem. Where will the residents go for a GP? We can only hope that matters such as this are fully taken into account during the independent examination.

Mind you, there are matters other than healthcare, which the Inspector will need to consider. One example is something that only saw the light of day recently. It’s contained in an addendum to the documents, which will be given to the Inspector. The addendum is Horsham District Council’s schedule of proposed changes to the local plan.

It relates to traffic moving into Surrey via the A24 and the A281, which might arise from the proposed north of Horsham development.

This wasn’t considered by the council, which means that the Horsham and District Transport and Development Study, a key part of the plan, is not fit for purpose.

The council’s proposal to review this matter after the plan has been approved by the Inspector doesn’t make any sense at all.

The suggestion is that the cost of any other measures needed to maintain the safe and efficient operation of the roads in West Sussex and Surrey, associated with a north of Horsham development, will be borne by the developer.

We’ve already been told by the council that the proposed development in its current form needs to be subsidised by us so these additional costs will make it worse.

So what’s going to happen when these additional costs are incurred?

Surely, we must prepare a complete transport and development study, which takes these factors into account before agreeing a local plan.

It could well be that the economics of a development north of Horsham is totally unviable and it is a non-starter.

Let’s find out the truth now or are we going to finish up with egg on our faces yet again?

The Horsham Society is concerned about the past, present and future of the town.

It seeks to promote good planning and design for the built environment and open spaces.

Membership of the Horsham Society is open to anyone, who shares these concerns.

For more information, visit our website www.horshamsociety.org or telephone 01403 261640.