In April and May in these letters column there was reference to a study conducted by Peter Brett Associates (PBA) for Liberty (a US developer) on the traffic implications for Horsham (especially the A264) if the hair-brained scheme championed by Cllr Dawe, his deputy Cllr Croft and cabinet planning member Cllr Vickers goes ahead on the 800 acres of green fields all of which forms what is currently a legally protected Strategic Gap.
All councillors were invited to read this study – but I understand that the majority didn’t bother – and despite residents asking for its release to the public – it never was. Cllr Croft is the cabinet planning member for communications and at HDC there appears to be a ‘need to know’ policy when it comes to imparting information to the public on such matters of controversy.
Cllr Mitchell asked questions about the PBA traffic report in the Cabinet meeting held in public on 23 April 2014 (but was punished for it afterwards when he was stripped of being chairman of the Licensing Committee).
The secrecy, which is par for the course in all consultations run by HDC, raises suspicions. Another transport study carried out by WSP (Horsham and District Transport and Development Study 2014) was made available to the public – but the scope of the study was extremely limited and to many correspondents on your pages seemed a poor basis on which to make an assessment as to whether traffic congestion on the A24/A264 would or would not be a ‘showstopper’.
The question on many minds was what would the Highways Agency say about the effect numerous blockages (known as ‘mitigation’ – roundabouts, traffic lights, and pedestrian crossings) would have on the current reasonably free flowing traffic on the important A24/A264 corridor linkage to the M23/A23 north south route at Pease Pottage? And what would WSCC say since they are responsible for highways?
You have to look on the HDC portal of representations to find the responses – almost hidden away. The Highways Agency state; ‘We have reviewed the report and are content with the outcome which shows minor impact on the M23 and the A23 for the future year of 2031 for the AM peak and therefore have no comments at this stage’.
West Sussex Highways state; ‘As stated in response to the HDPF Preferred Strategy consultation in October 2013, the County Council supports the study work commissioned by HDC to assess the strategic impacts of the proposed development allocations and establish that those impacts can be mitigated. The Horsham District Transport and Development Study completed in April 2014 showed that with appropriate mitigation measures in place, to include a Smarter Choices programme and a significant provision of sustainable transport infrastructure/services in addition to highway infrastructure, the development proposed in the HDPF is capable of being delivered without unacceptable impacts on the County Highway Network’.
There is an air of complacency about both these submissions, which in the circumstances I find quite appalling.
Traffic congestion not only on the A24 and A264 but also on feeder roads into Horsham is going to get much, much worse. I wonder whether the officials who wrote these responses use the A24/A264 regularly during the rush hours especially?
JAMES P. HOUGHTON
Owlscastle Close, Horsham