A new business park on the edge of Billingshurst could be approved by councillors next week.
The Dunmoore Group is looking to develop the greenfield site north of the village to create modern and flexible industrial units.
The eight hectare-site is south of New Road and east of the A29 and would be accessed by a new roundabout just south of the existing junction.
A hybrid application is due to be discussed by Horsham District Council’s planning committee south on Tuesday April 16, with officers recommending the plans be approved.
Detailed permission is sought for the first phase of the development on the western part of the site.
This would comprise 13 new business units in four blocks with a total external area of 4,998 square metres.
Outline approval is sought at the same time for phase two.
This includes 12 units in eight blocks totalling 14,075 square metres along with a petrol station, ancillary retail offer and drive-thru cafe.
According to the application: “The edge of settlement site represents a suitable option to deliver such sustainable growth, being located immediately to the north of a scheme for 475 dwellings which is being brought forward now, and by reason of its enclosure by a robust and defendable boundary formed by the A29 to the west and New Road to the north which would ensure that development on the site would have limited amenity impacts.”
It continues: “Not only will this address an existing shortfall in employment floorspace in Billingshurst in both quantitative and qualitative terms, it will also secure, via the introduction of new jobs in an accessible location close to the centre of Billingshurst, knock-on benefits for town centre businesses and other local businesses in the supply chain. It will sustain and enhance the economy of Billingshurst and help consolidate its role as a second-tier settlement in the development hierarchy.”
Billingshurst Parish Council has not objected but 17 letters opposing the application have been received compared to two in support.
Objectors have raised concerns about a lack of need for the proposed facilities including the petrol station, negative impact on rural landscape character and the loss of greenfields, increase in traffic congestion and impact on road safety, the effect on the high street, noise and light pollution, impact on biodiversity and the potential for flooding problems to be exacerbated.
In their conclusion council planning officers said their determination of the proposal is ‘very finely balanced’.
While the application conflicts with the Horsham District Planning Framework they argued the developers present a ‘compelling case in favour of employment development on this site’.
Their report said: “Whilst the primacy of the adopted development plan and its conflict with the proposed development carries significant weight in the overall acceptability of this development, the material considerations that demonstrate the acute need for additional and high quality employment floorspace in Billingshurst and the wider district are compelling.”