Last Saturday, June 21, witnessed a substantial, lively gathering in Horsham Park against the Council’s highly controversial proposed housing and half million square foot business park development in North Horsham. Posters were displayed and after the meeting placard carrying protesters marched to the Carfax, distributing information and enlisting support.
The plan is to develop the 800 acre site from Langhurst Wood Road in the west to Wimland Road in the east hemmed in to the south by the A264 and ancient woodland to the north. Speaking at the rally north Horsham resident Geoff Richardson explained that the proposals had divided the Council – councillors Baldwin, Cornell, Croft and Rae backing the proposals while Messrs Burgess and Mitchell plus Liz Kitchen voted against. If approved by the Planning Inspector in the forthcoming enquiry the development could be completed in four years, the Chennels Brook area seeing the first phase.
Mr Richardson told the District Post: “The core strategy was the Council’s pledge to maintain the strategic gap between Horsham and Crawley, which would be breached and they have not proved the need for the business park or said which companies might be involved. Most of the jobs provided would be at the minimum wage, not boosting the local economy and it is unlikely that a new hospital and railway station would materialise. Brownfield sites should be developed first.”
A barrister has been appointed to fight the proposals on the grounds that the irreversible destruction of an outstandingly beautiful area would severely damage Horsham’s appeal, cause pollution and serious traffic congestion on already busy roads, urbanising and blighting the locality and gambling with business developments that are not certain to succeed.
The development would butt on to Rusper, village resident George Sallows commenting: “The Kilnwood Vale development adjoining the A264 is only the start of that scheme and there are already huge projects under construction. Horsham and Crawley have separate distinct characters and should not be merged. If the second Gatwick runway proceeds we will be in danger of one big urban sprawl so we need to protect our environment.” Josh Merritt lives near the proposed entrance to the business park, saying: “I’ll be very badly affected if this goes ahead. I’d be surrounded by the development, losing all of the lovely countryside and walks that I so enjoy. I’m 25 and don’t think that what’s being proposed would help me to buy my own place.” 11 year old Megan Keating succinctly summarised the views of the protestors: “We’ve got enough houses. Horsham is fine the way it is and we don’t need another big supermarket.”
After the consultation process closes today (Friday 27) the Planning Inspector will consider representations made by the Council and protestors with hearings planned for later in the year.