Plans are being made to build a new fire station for Horsham on land off the A24 at Highwood.
The proposals would provide a state-of-the-art joint emergency operational and training centre with Sussex Police. It would also mean the closure of the current 50-year-old fire station in Hurst Road.
The scheme also includes plans for a joint blue-light satellite station close to Horsham town centre with an on-call fire engine and a public-facing front counter for police.
Officials - who are now seeking the public’s views on the proposals - say that the current fire station built in 1968 is ‘no longer able to provide the operational training environment required for a modern fire service.’
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is part of West Sussex County Council which says that the project is being brought forward as part of a ‘One Public Estate’ programme.
A county council spokesman said: “As part of the planning and consultation process West Sussex Fire Authority needs to consult the public about the impact of the relocation on the emergency response. Full consultation on the design of the new facilities will be undertaken later during the formal planning process.
“Detailed analysis of the effect of the relocation by the fire service has shown agreed emergency response times will be maintained.”
Council cabinet member Debbie Kennard said: “This is a really exciting proposal. For more than a decade it has been our aspiration to build a new Horsham Fire Station and it is fantastic that we are now in a position to bring forward this initial proposal.
“I am so excited that we will be able to develop a modern, fit for the future fire station. The A24 site is a wonderful opportunity for us to develop this new building and realise that aspiration.”
And Chief Fire Officer Gavin Watts said: “Our priority is always to ensure we improve or at least maintain our response standard when considering relocating a fire station. Our risk modelling has shown that we will maintain our emergency response.
“This proposed centre is a major step forward for us as a service. We support the Government drive towards emergency services working more collaboratively, and a facility which would be shared with Sussex Police supports that.
“Our new training centre will have state of the art facilities currently not available in our region. The new resources will not only support us in providing the best possible training to our staff, but will also be of value to neighbouring blue-light services.”
The new station would also become the base for the fire service’s nusiness fire safety team and technical rescue unit.
Horsham District Council leader Ray Dawe said: “I am delighted that the planning provision made as part of the land west of Horsham has now moved a step nearer our aim of realising a new modern fire station for our area, whilst still retaining a satellite station close to Horsham town centre.
“This proposed new station presents a major opportunity to improve levels of service and efficiency for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, and we look forward to progressing this significant project through the formal planning process after this public consultation.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne added: “Local taxpayers have a right to expect that their elected representatives will provide the best possible services that deliver value for money.
“Since I became PCC with responsibility for the police estate across Sussex, I have welcomed collaboration with other services where it increases capability and saves money and time.
“We already have several examples of police and fire services being successfully co-located, including the shared HQ facilities in Lewes with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.”
Information about the proposed relocation will be on show until at Horsham Library until September 19. People can also attend two drop-in events at the library on Saturday August 18 from 10am to midday and on Thursday September 13 from 5-7pm.
People can have their say on the proposal until September 19 at www.westsussex.gov.uk/horshamfirestation
Horsham fire service itself dates back to the 1800s. Formed in 1840, Horsham Volunteer Fire Brigade was one of the first to be established in the country and was deemed one of the most prestigious due to its large workforce. Volunteers at this time used small ladders and handcarts with leather buckets of water to tackle fires.
In 1882, the first purpose built station was constructed at 22 North Street, and these premises were used until 1929 when it was relocated next to Park House in North Street. This station was used throughout World War Two.
In 1948, the station changed its name to Horsham Fire Station and also started operating full-time crews.
It was the first station in West Sussex Fire Brigade to receive an emergency call - which was to a chimney fire in Orchard Road.