Football ground plans rejected

HORSHAM Football Club's controversial plans to build a new football ground in a residential area of the town were rejected last night (Tuesday July 1).

A packed public gallery saw councillors vote unanimously to refuse the application for the Holbrook Club site, in North Heath Lane.

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For a full report on the meeting - which was broadcast to the Capitol Theatre via live video link - buy this week's County Times.

See live updates from the meeting below.

6.38pm - The application is refused. A unanimous vote.

6.37pm - Chairman Ian Howard calls a vote.

6.36pm - Andrew Baldwin (Con, Holbrook East) requests a recorded vote.

6.33pm - Clive Burgess (LDem, Horsham Park): "In my heart I don't want to, but in my head, in terms of planning, the loss of amenity is the thing that counts."

6.31pm - Every councillor's speech has been applauded by a packed public gallery.

6.30pm - Christine Costin (LDem, Trafalgar): "I am surprised by the lack of communication between the football club and residents.

"I find it hard to believe the application was entered in the form it was in and I actually expected it to be withdrawn

6.26pm - Pat Rutherford (LDem, Roffey South) says she has never seen a planning issue that has inspired so much interest in her 20 years on the council.

6.23pm - Belinda Walters (LDem, Holbrook West) says the local people have a right to peace and quiet, to enjoy the gardens of their homes. She calls on the council to help the football club to find a new home in another spot and to do it quickly: "We don't want to create a situation where we are putting the residents in conflict with another set of residents in the town."

6.20pm - Christian Mitchell (Con, Holbrook West) says Horsham Football Club caused unnecessary angst and confusion when it bought the Holbrook Club without planning permission: "No doubt the football club will reflect after tonight that this is not right for them and it certainly isn't right for residents."

6.16pm - Linda Pettitt (Con, Holbrook East) says the issues for local residents include the high levels of traffic, noise and light pollution.

6.13pm - Andrew Baldwin (Con, Holbrook East) says there's been a big black cloud hanging over Holbrook ever since the football club bought the Holbrook Club: "I have never seen such interest in a planning application," he says.

"This planning application doesn't answer many concerns that local people have."

6.10pm - Frank King has come to the end of his two minutes. He is cut short and protests: "I have not said all I wanted to say."

6.06pm - Horsham FC chairman Frank King says the club has brought a great deal of pleasure to so many families: "Please note, we are not Manchester United or Arsenal seeking a new stadium. We are a good non-league football club who have found a new home."

6pm - Horsham Football Club supporter and former HDC member Godfrey Newman warns this is a 'wake up call regardless of past history': "If this fails, something has to be done or we could lose a vital community asset, maybe two, as there would be no point in the football club remaining at Holbrook."

5.57pm: Third objector Jim Rae asks committee members to unanimously support the officers' recommendation for refusal: "Inevitably there will be clashes between residents and football supporters," he says.

5.55pm - Second objector Ms E Smith accuses Horsham Football Club of showing scant concern for the residents.

5.53pm - First objector Mr Geoff Adams pleads with the council to reject the plans: "Your decision tonight will affect our lives, and those of our children, for many years," he says.

5.50pm - Head of planning Ray Wright recommends refusal: "There will be significant impact on neighbours," he says.

5.42pm - The ground would have a 4,000 capacity, floodlights, a two metre high fence around the perimeter and the plans include levelling of the ground.

5.36pm - HDC head of planning Ray Wright presents his report on the planning application.

5.35pm - Mr G Adams is asked to take his seat. He will be the first of four objectors.

5.34pm - Apologies for absence from vice chairman Peter Rowlinson, leader of the Conservative group Liz Kitchen, leader of the Lib Dem group Sally Horner and John Cox.

5.32pm - Chairman Ian Howard opens the meeting: "This is a standard planning application and we are treating it in exactly the same way as in any other planning meeting," he says.

5.30pm - The council chamber is full to capacity. There is a strong feeling of anticipation both here and in the Capitol Theatre next door where the people who couldn't fit in the council chamber are watchin a live video link.