Plans to convert an empty Horsham pub into a children’s nursery have been deferred due to road safety and parking concerns.
The Rising Sun in Pondtail Road closed in June and a planning application for a change of use, alongside single and first-floor rear extensions, was submitted to Horsham District Council (HDC).
The new nursery would accommodate up to 80 children and employ around 16 staff members.
However residents and a number of councillors raised serious concerns about the impact of extra traffic at a HDC Planning Committee North meeting on Tuesday (November 5).
Several committee members spoke in support of refusal, but instead councillors agreed to defer the application to await a review of the road safety audit carried out by West Sussex County Council.
Maureen Shearer, who lives in Pondtail Road, said: “I’m appalled at the lack of consideration that has been given to the highways safety aspects of the application.”
Fellow objector Andrew Hurdle described how the road had a speeding problem, a single narrow pavement on just one side of the carriageway, and a sharp bend near the railway bridge.
But Lee Talbot, addressing transport issues for the applicant, explained that traffic movements would be spread over the peak periods with parents picking up and dropping off their children at different times.
Around 180 trips would be generated a day, while the site would have 17 parking spaces with ‘no more than ten vehicles being parked at one time’.
But concerns were raised about whether restrictions were needed to stop parking along Pondtail Road and the impact this might have on road safety.
Conditions will require monitoring of any parking in Pondtail Road and the introduction of restrictions if any problems are identified.
Peter Burgess (Con, Holbrook West), vice-chairman of the council, said he ‘strongly disagreed’ with the county council’s traffic assessment, adding: “There will inevitably be a serious accident.”
His fellow ward member Christian Mitchell said: “I can’t think of a less suitable site for a nursery.”
Officers confirmed that WSCC’s highways team had conducted a site visit.
Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater), cabinet member for planning and development, suggested the county council ‘are not going to put children’s lives at risk whatever one might think’.
Meanwhile Tony Hogben (Con, Denne) pointed out that the car park had been used by the pub for years, while traffic movements would be ‘staggered’ across an hour and a half period in the mornings and evenings.
Jonathan Dancer (Con, Roffey North) added: “I can see there is a significant risk and my view is to support the local members and push for a deferral to properly review this matter.”