A new business park on the northern edge of Billingshurst and a roundabout on the A29 have both been approved by councillors this week.
The Dunmoore Group is planning to develop a greenfield site south of New Road to create modern and flexible industrial units, alongside a petrol station, ancillary retail offer and drive-thru cafe.
The eight hectares of land is north of a 475-home development currently under construction. The site will be accessed by a new roundabout built on the A29.
A hybrid application for the works was approved by Horsham District Council’s planning committee south on Tuesday (April 16).
Full planning permission was granted for the first phase of the development on the western part of the site for 13 new business units in four blocks along with the access and roundabout.
Outline permission was given for phase two, comprising 12 commercial units to the east of the site, the petrol station, retail offer and drive-thru.
Council planning officers described how the decision to recommend approval was ‘very finely balanced’ as the application was contrary to policies in the Horsham District Planning Framework, but there was an identified need for more business space.
Jeffrey Hobby, managing director and owner of Dunmoore, said a number of the units would be rented so the company would retain a future interest in the site and it had a track record of working in partnership with communities.
He felt the application would provide ‘significant and much needed benefits to Billingshurst’.
But objectors have argued there is a lack of need for the proposed facilities and have also suggested the development would have a negative impact on the rural landscape character and increase traffic congestion as well as affecting road safety.
Kate Rowbottom (Con, Billingshurst and Shipley) said: “This application does conflict with HDC’s planning policies as the site is outside the built up area boundary and it will have a detrimental impact on the landscape.
“However we have actually lost employment space across the village and there’s an acknowledged need for a petrol station. These units would provide the opportunity for existing businesses to expand and provide much needed economic growth and jobs in the district.”
Both Gordon Lindsay (Con, Billingshurst and Shipley) and Brian Donnelly (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham) raised the fact that housebuilding had outstripped the creation of new jobs in the area and this led to more people commuting out of the district.
Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry), leader of the council, highlighted the council’s own Horsham district economic strategy and the need to provide more employment space. He said: “It seems to me we have a perfect opportunity here.”