Protection for historic sites

FURTHER to your report of oil exploration in the area, when we had the geological survey carried out in front of our Grade II listed house recently, it was a very disturbing experience with the heavy vibrating machinery.

The object of this exercise was to detect whether there is oil or gas to be found deep below ground, which will be extracted by a French company.

When you own a property which is listed Grade I or II you have to jump through hoops so as not to destroy the history and nature of the property. We have always been happy to comply using all the old and relevant materials.

It set me wondering that if oil or gas had been discovered on or adjacent to this house would the Grade II listing be worth the paper it was written on. I imagine not.

I recall that over the last two years a similar situation seemed to be given the blessing, I think it was actually instigated by Horsham District Council with regard to Horsham town hall, Horsham’s community centre which is also a Grade II listed building.

From what I have read HDC was determinedly trying to supplant the community facility of the town hall with another restaurant and had been trying and perhaps succeeded to obtain permission to knock out the front arch windows to insert signs and cut out the acoustically designed ceiling etc. So that seems to signify that that Grade II listing wasn’t worth the paper it was written on either.

HDC at present does not appear to have the remotest interest in the history of the few old buildings left to us.

No doubt in a few years’ time these council members will have either gone on to greater things or retired and we may get a new set who are more kindly disposed towards their own town’s history and culture.

Everything seems to come back into fashion eventually.

I love the town hall and I know of a lot of charities and events organisers who are waiting in the wings for the town hall to be there for them again.

Allegedly, we already pay for the town hall facility in our council tax which is probably less that £1 per household per annum.

Plus, so I have heard, HDC will receive financial benefit from the developers building 2,000 houses at Broadbridge Heath, to be used for community facilities in Horsham and district.

Apart from the historic town hall which leads on to the historic houses of the Causeway with the wonderful museum on the way to the church, Horsham has become one big shopping mall.

Very convenient for those who want a bigger M&S than Dorking, but not the place to linger for a chat – the car parking charges see to that.

It would gladden my heart to see the town hall open again welcoming the community in the time honoured way.

It would also show people like us who own and are custodians of historic buildings that the listing and grading goalposts cannot be moved to accommodate big business or large authorities.


Great Daux