The latest Horsham District Council meeting concerning the future of the town’s Novartis site was brought to a grinding halt when an officer decided the entire matter should be referred to the full council.
An outline application, including 300 homes, for the Parsonage Road site was being discussed by the planning committee this evening (Tuesday August 6), with several councillors sharing their frustrations and concerns about the whole situation.
When the pharmaceutical giant left town in 2014, there were big plans to turn the whole site into a university campus or a ‘world renowned’ science park.
Now though, with all that dropped, the application, which was put forward by West Sussex County Council, was described as ‘a missed opportunity’ by some and a ‘total pig’s ear’ by others.
Concerns were raised about everything from the impact on traffic congestion in the area to road safety to the need for a footbridge over the railway line.
The debate was progressing well, but when Ruth Fletcher (Lib Dem, Denne) suggested the application be rejected, Barbara Childs, the council’s director of place, essentially ended the debate.
She said that, because the committee ‘was minded to make a decision in which there are likely to be significant cost implications for the council’, the matter should be referred to the full council for discussion.
Members were told this was in line with the council’s constitution.
The decision was met with some confused-looking councillors and a call of ‘so what’s the point of having a planning committee at all?’ from the packed public gallery.
The next meeting of the full council is scheduled for Wednesday September 4.