Anger over plans to concrete over part of town centre park

Residents protest over proposed changes to Horsham Park
Residents protest over proposed changes to Horsham Park

Plans to concrete over part of a town centre park have sparked fury among local residents who say it will mean yet another erosion of the area’s green spaces.

Horsham District Council is seeking planning approval for the formation of hardstanding and change of use from open space to ‘mixed use recreation and event space’ on the site of a current volleyball pitch in Horsham Park.

Size of the proposed events area in Horsham Park SUS-170719-142923001

Size of the proposed events area in Horsham Park SUS-170719-142923001

But a flurry of letters of objection have been lodged against the proposals by local residents.

Sally Sanderson, of Parkside Mews, is among those worried about the proposed changes. “The application is extremely vague,” she said. “What is the council actually planning? There are contradictory notices on the volleyball court saying it will be grassed over.”

She said she had heard that marquee-based events such as indoor sports and weddings could be held there, if the plans go ahead. Other speculation was that the area could be used as an arts exhibition centre, Christmas market and ice rink, venue for craft fairs and over-flow parking.

In a letter of objection to the council, one local resident pleaded: “Stop destroying all the green land in Horsham. The park is a tranquil place of beauty and should not be concreted over.”

Another said: “Horsham Park is one of the few large areas of greenery that can be used by the town’s families and young people. Converting part of this jewel into hardstanding is nothing short of vandalism.”

Another resident, in a letter to planners, stressed: “This green oasis must be preserved not only for the many residents who use it but for all future generations.”

A council spokesman said: “The council has applied to use part of the site formerly occupied by Horsham Nursery in the park for an events area.

‘‘The volley ball court which lies in the middle of this area is often too flooded to use so an area that is around the size of three volley ball courts is proposed to be used for recreation and events space.

‘‘This is much smaller than the area shown in the planning application, which may have been misleading. We have therefore prepared an additional plan that shows clearly the area that will be surfaced.

“The surface material will be the same as the footpaths that have recently been put in at Chesworth Farm, south of Horsham, because of its suitability in a more rural location. The area will not be used for public car parking and none of the 1,200 trees in Horsham Park will be removed nor any shrubs.”

More details of the application, reference DC/17/1453, can be found on the council’s website - https://www.horsham.gov.uk/planning/view-and-comment-on-planning-application