A new home for Horsham Football Club has been approved at Hop Oast delighting its fans and committee.
Its two previous applications for a new football ground, first at the Holbrook Club, and then next to Horsham Golf and Fitness off Worthing Road were both refused by Horsham District Council.
Its third application for the Hop Oast site was approved by HDC's Planning Committee North tonight (Tuesday March 21).
Two of the three local members spoke in opposition to the application but in a passionate speech Billy Greening (Con, Southwater) said: "We can't be the committee that condemned them [Horsham Football Club and the Holbrook Club] to the scrap heap."
He felt the current situation was 'far from desirable' but the 'saga has gone on for long enough'. He added: "Stand tall and be the champions of our community."
Beforehand felow Southwater councillor Claire Vickers argued it was contrary to HDC's planning policies, describing it as an 'unacceptable new seven day a week business in the countryside'. She added: "I'm not prepared to be held to ransom by Horsham Football Club."
Meanwhile John Chidlow raised safety concerns about both young people cycling and walking to the Hop Oast ground as well as the pedestrian crossing in Worthing Road.
But Andrew Baldwin (Con, Holbrook East) said: "This is an ideal site that will have limited impact on the surrounding area."
He described it as a 'classic example of NIMBYism' adding: "We must not allow a tiny few to spoil this for the vast majority of residents."
Steve Ogborn described the Hop Oast site as a 'very poor choice' for a football ground', while Rory Morgan added: "You would get a better location by randomly sticking a pin in a map."
But Jules White, headteacher of Tandridge House School, highlighted the benefits to Horsham primary and secondary school pupils of using the new football pitches, while Horsham FC director John Lines explained that if the application was rejected the club 'will die'.
Simon Charman, chairman of the Holbrook Club, explained that permission for a new ground would trigger a 25-year lease, securing the organisation's future.
However Graham Watkins, chairman of Southwater Parish Council, argued that the ground would 'adversely affect the rural character of the area', adding: "This is not the right or safe place."
The recurring theme of the debate was pedestrian safety. Peter Burgess (Con, Holbrook West) described Worthing Road as unlit, very narrow, dangerous, and unsuitable for cycling and walking.
Jonathan Dancer (Con, Roffey North) asked if a state-of-the-art pedestrian crossing could be installed, while David Skipp (LDem, Horsham Park) added: "Safety is paramount but I do not think it's insurmountable."
Leonards Crosbie (LDem, Trafalgar) said: "Young people need support and they need to be given facilities and I think this proposal does exactly that."
Enabling development of 58 new homes next to the Holbrook Club off North Heath Lane with access from Jackdaw Lane was also approved. Councillors raised concerns about the loss of green space in North Horsham and the fact that the development did not hit the council's affordable housing target of 35 per cent, but reluctantly approved the second application.
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