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Horsham’s Novartis Site – still time to have your say!

In September West Sussex County Council opened their major consultation exercise regarding the proposed redevelopment of the extensive former Novartis site with an exhibition at the Holbrook Club, which was attended by more than 150 people.

And, on Tuesday, there was a further display at the venue, this time featuring public feedback on the proposals, accompanied by responses from WSCC. While the feedback was broadly favourable, concerns were expressed and the masterplan for the site – named “Horsham Enterprise Park” – has been revised. The consultation process closes on November 16th – details on how to participate are shown below, meanwhile, display banners outlining current ideas for the site will be on display at Horsham Library from November 5th to 16th when feedback forms will be available.

Major local employer Novartis ceased operations in June 2014 and it was originally hoped to convert the location into a university campus, but when that fell through, WSCC purchased the site for £16million after receiving a £3.66million contribution from the Coast to Capital Local Growth Fund.      

A technical assessment has been carried out and the draft masterplan aims  at delivering ‘a high quality place, benefitting the community and attracting new investment’. WSCC’s  proposals retain the large 1930s art deco/ arts and craft former HQ of the pharmaceutical company as a local landmark, turning it into apartments, and developing business space and an innovation hub for start up businesses –  over approximately two thirds of the site – along with around 300 new homes (35% of which would be classed as “affordable”), including family housing and new apartments. If the present proposals proceed additional facilities would be provided, including a café, a crèche and nursery and a convenience store. The scheme would feature retention of the iconic cedar avenue, landscaping, and improved pedestrian, cycle and public transport links into and through the site, connecting it to the wider area with improved layouts and ‘people friendly streets’ with restricted vehicular access. The expressed intention is to convert the location into a community hub and employment centre, in accordance with WSCC’s stated objective to create and support jobs, with an enterprise zone established at the south east of the site near Parsonage Road and homes, generally two to three storeys high, south of Wimblehurst Road.       The feedback included suggestions that, as Horsham has had success in attracting businesses in the video games industry, similar companies should be courted, and other innovative hi tech businesses were also perceived to have important potential, with medical research and science represented to reflect the site’s history and the original redevelopment proposals for a business park. Respondents were also strongly in favour of affordable homes and shared ownership, others suggesting homes for elderly and retired people.

There was a positive response regarding the retention of trees and praise for the envisaged overall level of green space. Concerns related to the proposed number of houses, some feeling that 300 would be too many. Replacement of the gatehouse was also not universally popular and some felt that busy residents would need and welcome additional health and educational facilities. And, there was major concern over neighbouring roads being too congested and narrow, possibly hindering much appreciated cycle lane provision. Poor visibility at the mini roundabout at the junction of Wimblehurst and Parsonage Roads was also highlighted. A new pedestrian footbridge was also sought, together with better links to Horsham Station. WSCC responded by saying that they are committed to delivering high quality flexible space, promoting the site to attract the range of uses mentioned in the feedback, allowing businesses to “scale up” as they grow. 300 houses would be the maximum, the final amount could be lower, and proposals for older citizens might be included. There could also be improvement of health, educational, sports and recreational facilities. Better road access and safety considerations would be implemented for all users, and landscaping and planting introduced through and around the campus. Any further feedback received before the deadline will be taken on board.

It is expected that an outline planning application will be submitted to Horsham District Council later this year. Once approval has been obtained a development partner would be sought, with, after further authorisation, redevelopment work at the site commencing in 2021 on a phased basis lasting at least five, possibly seven years.

The company Communications Potential has been employed by WSCC to manage the consultation process, their telephone number and e mail address are: 0207 357 8000 –  info@communicationpotential.co.uk. They can also be contacted by post at FREEPOST PLUS RTZK – CCXG – SEXK, 136-148 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2TU and the relevant West Sussex County Council website is: www.westsussex.gov.uk/horshamenterprisepark

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