Here is why Rookwood Golf Course in Horsham is safe from development - for now

Unpopular plans to build new homes on Rookwood Golf Course have been pulled by Horsham District Council.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 9:01 am

Proposals were first unveiled at the start of 2020 for up to 1,100 homes with the site promoted as part of the council’s own local plan review process.

However work had been going on to develop the plans behind the scenes since at least 2016.

Over the past year the council has revised its proposals several times, reducing the number of homes, redesigning the scheme and promising more green enhancements especially to Warnham Local Nature Reserve.

Golfers at Rookwood
Golfers at Rookwood

But the plans have been fiercely unpopular in the town with a number of organisations speaking out, while an online petition has topped 12,000 signatures.

Today, the council has revealed it is not considering Rookwood for development in the local plan at this time.

Tony Hogben, deputy leader and cabinet member for communication, Horsham town and parking, said: “The council is now under new leadership and enhancing our green spaces and listening to public consultation are vital in building trust in our leadership.

“Not allocating Rookwood in the Local Plan is the wish of the public at this stage, following a year that has seen increased golf activity. Your councillors have listened.

“It is vital that we engage with local groups and find out how we can best use the council owned land at Rookwood. We are committed to listening and engaging over the next two years before making any longer term commitments on the future of Rookwood.”

The decision follows a recent change of leadership with a new council leader and cabinet member for planning and development installed in May.

The council thanked the community for its feedback and having listened to the views expressed it decided the current proposals ‘do not fully reflect the current needs of the local community’.

As the owner of the site, HDC plans to open a further more in-depth consultation to gather more ideas and better understand the needs of residents and users.

The new consultation would see the overall site looked at in more depth to explore a broader and more varied range of potential leisure and recreational facilities, not just limited to golf.

The council says Rookwood has ‘exceptional potential’ to deliver benefits such as rewilding and enhancing the nature reserve and it is committed to protecting the unique environment there with sustainability, biodiversity and protection of native plants and wildlife ‘at the heart of their thinking’.

However the council also said the ‘possibility of much needed affordable homes on part of the site could also be considered in the future’, but the principles of any future proposals would be to enhance the green spaces and to deliver a site for broader community use.

For a background on what a local plan read our explainer.