It is difficult to assess the long-term consequences of building on the green fields north of the A264 Horsham bypass. However, having read numerous opinions about the pros and cons I am persuaded that any such development would not have a net benefit and should not be given approval at this time.
There has been a lot of rhetoric but no objective substance from the clique of councillors supporting the development. Those councillors seem full of self belief but have thus far failed to make a convincing case to the people and rate payers of Horsham; and they have failed even to obtain a consensus amongst their peers.
There is a proposal to build a business park. However, no need has been identified and no business case has been made and, there is currently more available business space in Horsham than there has been for decades.
There is the possibility of a secondary school and maybe three primary schools. A new secondary school would mean the children of Southwater would continue to go without a much-needed local school; and it would force a redrawing of the catchment areas for Millais and Forest schools. Residents in north Horsham would then discover they have to cross the A264 dual carriageway to reach their new school. Par for the course, any new school building will not even commence before the houses are finished and occupied – thus, in the meantime, creating a hiatus which will put an unresolvable strain on existing schools, to the detriment of those attending.
There’s talk of a new railway station, sometime, or maybe never. Before one is built there would be significant increases in traffic to and from and parking around Littlehaven Halt and Horsham Station. If a new station is built services at Littlehaven Halt are likely to be downgraded; that will create significant increases in traffic to and from and parking around the new station. Either way, it’s a no win situation.
Builders prefer to build on green fields rather than make use of brownfield sites. They will build what is most profitable for them and avoid anything which does not provide a healthy profit margin for them. Thus, little mention is made of providing supporting facilities and services. That burden will eventually fall to the local people.
There is a need for more housing, or rather a need for more ‘affordable’ and ‘sustainable’ housing. The question is at what rate can more housing (and people and traffic associated with that) be accommodated without putting an intolerable strain on the existing and planned infrastructure and services, and without detriment to the character of the town and district?
As recently as 2011 there were less than 55,000 houses in the Horsham district, of which less than 21,000 were in Horsham town. It has been reported there are already around 8,000 approved house-building applications. That represents a 14.5 per cent increase in housing, traffic and demand for services throughout the district. Southwater village has already become a town, but without the facilities of a town. Broadbridge Heath village is about to be effectively subsumed as a suburb of Horsham town.
Building an additional 2,400 to 4,500 houses north of the A264 bypass will increase 2011 Horsham town housing by a further 11.5 per cent to 21 per cent! If at all, such additional increases cannot be assimilated in such a short space of time. To look at only one aspect: peak time traffic congestion on the A264 bypass would become even more intolerable and costly, especially given the ‘Crawsham’ development west of Bewbush, not to mention an expansion of Gatwick Airport. To experience the effect, just try driving around the Chichester bypass any week-day.
Bigger is not necessarily better and it is certainly not necessary. Horsham has been a market town for hundreds of years and is sustainable, as such, for hundreds of years to come.
Before any further steps are taken the council and people of Horsham should have time to experience and assimilate the consequences, on the local infrastructure and services, of the building developments which have already been approved. If necessary we should join together to defy the present Government which is desperate to boost the current economy through new house building even if it forever ruins our environment.
Mr & Mrs C Morris
Tennyson Close, Horsham