Development will cause massive traffic problems, say councillors

Land being prepared for development in Broadbridge Heath, between Tesco and Newbridge Nursery.

Land being prepared for development in Broadbridge Heath, between Tesco and Newbridge Nursery.

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RAT runs becoming a constant feature caused consternation and near mutiny among councillors last week as traffic plans were unveiled for the new west of Horsham development.

Plans to replace the current Broadbridge Heath bypass with a road south of the existing A264, putting a new roundabout on the Five Oaks Road and a Pegasus crossing on the new east-west road, were met with near disbelief.

Plans for 963 homes south of Broadbridge Heath and west of Horsham.

Plans for 963 homes south of Broadbridge Heath and west of Horsham.

Residents have already expressed deep concern about rat-run issues in Warnham and Slinfold in recent weeks, concerns that will only intensify with around 2,000 extra cars, councillors said.

Tricia Youtan (Con, Itchingfield, Slinfold and Warnham), said: “Are we saying it is acceptable, because that is the antithesis of what Slinfold and Warnham parish councils are saying.”

Malcom Curnock (LDem, Broadbridge Heath), added: “Modelling has missed something, it’s tailbacks that will build up and clog up everything.”

He added: “At the time the situation was not considered an issue and it’s coming back to bite us. There is no ready solution, we have an agreement approved. How appropriate now we are stuck with it.”

Tom Crowley, chief executive of Horsham District Council, reminded councillors that they could only look at the additional impact, while others added that it was not the job of the developers to fix existing problems.

However they whispered mutinously as it was explained that West Sussex County Council’s traffic modelling was done over a year ago.

Godfrey Newman (LDem, Forest), expressed exasperation with the county council and said it would displace a current problem at Broadbridge Heath to other places.

“Navigating the present roundabout at the wrong time of the day is a nightmare,” Jim Rae (Con, Holbrook East) said.

“2,000 additional cars on one single roundabout will cause a massive problem.”

Similar problems were highlighted last week as Keep Southwater Green expressed fears that a 550-home development there would cause people to drive through Southwater to avoid the Hop Oast Roundabout on the A24.

Meanwhile some councillors vented their fury at the council for missing their own 40 per cent affordable housing target, delivering just 30 per cent on the first phase of development south of Broadbridge Heath.

The outline of the first 105 of 963 properties was delegated to the planning officer, delivering 20 per cent on-site affordable housing and a commuted sum of £7.73m towards off-site housing, equating to an extra ten per cent.

David Holmes (LDem, Horsham Park), also expressed his dissatisfaction that the split between rented and shared ownership had fallen from 62.5/37.5 to 52/48 in negotiations.

He explained: “There is no way I can support this. I do not have the confidence to say this will be a really good settlement that will work.”

Mr Curnock raised Broadbridge Heath Parish Council’s concerns over the number of car parking spaces, which fell below the WSCC calculator based on the amount of properties, and the new shared surfaces in place of pavements.

However Mr Rae said that the development was a balancing act, and that the retention of green spaces, which led to decreased parking spaces, should be welcomed.

John Chidlow (Con, Southwater) joined Dr Holmes, Mr Newman and Frances Haigh (LDem, Horsham Park) in voting against delegating the decision to the planning officers.

Save our Sussex Alliance has organised a demonstration for Saturday April 28 at 2pm near Newbridge Nurseries in Broadbridge Heath to protest against the destruction of trees and ongoing threats to the countryside from large-scale development.

For more information visit its website at www.saveoursussex.com