A vacant Horsham pub’s conversion to a children’s nursery has been refused by councillors when it went before them for a third time.
The Rising Sun in Pondtail Road closed in June 2017 and an 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.
The council’s Planning Committee North deferred the application in December then delegated it with a view to approve in February subject to outstanding road safety concerns being addressed.
However it was refused when it came back to committee last Tuesday (April 10).
Perfect Start Children’s Day Nursery and Pre-School agreed to widen the site’s access point and pay for double yellow lines.
But its offer of speed signs was not supported by West Sussex County Council highway officers as speed surveys did not demonstrate they were required.
Residents have raised concerns about road safety during pick-up and drop-off times and argued insufficient parking would lead to parents parking on the side of the road.
Objector Ian Aird argued a nursery would create ‘hazards and nuisance in a quiet residential area’, while Andrew Hurdle added: “By any measure this development is demonstrably unsafe.”
Sheila Poynter added: “This is the wrong location for a nursery.”
The applicant asked for decisions to be based on ‘evidence rather than unfounded concerns’.
The agent said they would ‘completely refute any suggestion we would provide facilities that were unsafe in any way for young children’.
Peter Burgess (Con, Holbrook West) proposed refusal due to the likely increase in traffic and parking problems as well as the effect on residents.
He said: “It’s not if, it’s when there is a serious accident and someone is killed. Perhaps then we will be done for corporate manslaughter.”
The issue of poor visibility for traffic heading under the railway bridge around a blind bend coming up to the pub site was raised several times.
Officers argued a refusal would be difficult to defend at appeal since WSCC had not objected on road safety grounds.
Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater), cabinet member for planning and development, said: “I find it impossible to see there is a safety issue which the highways authority has not understood.”
She pointed out a road safety audit had been carried out including two speed surveys.
But Leonard Crosbie (LDem, Trafalgar) suggested yellow lines are often ignored and ‘do not cut any mustard’, while Alan Britten (Con, Roffey North) called for the county council to look again at road safety issues, taking the bridge into account.
Karen Burgess (Con, Holbrook East) added: “This is simply not the right location for this facility.”
|Plans to turn historic pub into nursery| Plans to turn historic pub into nursery}