Horsham Football Club’s future may lie away from their Hop Oast site as they seek the best outcome in drawing up a new planning application with new developers.
Hop Oast remains their plan A in terms of site for a new home, but the County Times understands they have both a plan B and C up their sleeves.
But wherever they opt to submit a new application, Hornets’ chief executive John Lines has assured fans and those who have supported them in their plight, that they will not rest until the club has a home once again.
This week marks a year since Horsham District Council rejected the club’s planning application to build themselves a modest new home on an old unused golf hole opposite the amenity tip and park and ride on Worthing Road.
Despite a recommendation from their own officers, the council voted 13-9 against the application, a similar story to 2008 when they refused an application for a new home for the club at the Holbrook Club.
But with a new - currently unnamed developer on board after parting company with Croudace Homes in October- the board at Horsham are determined to get things right with a new planning application.
Lines said: “We have been through a selection process with a number of development companies over this last period of six months, seeking their thoughts and ideas on how best to tackle the obstacles that were placed in our way by council members and the restrictions applied to the planning recommendation at Hop Oast.
“It is of course vital that, when we make an application next time, we have a sound plan that answers those issues and has a credible likelihood of success and one that is financially viable.
“After careful deliberation and weighing up of the various proposals we are proceeding with a new partner who, for the moment, wish to remain anonymous.
“A new planning application process has begun but it has to include all the hugely time-consuming consultations with both HDC and the councillors themselves.
“The ecological reports all have to be re-worked, including newt counting and their relocation, new transport and traffic assessments, Sport England approval etc etc.
“All of the board have been hard at work behind the scenes to ensure that our next application will be difficult to refuse but, at the end of the day, it is once again down to those who vote at North Horsham Development Control.
“Our message to supporters is, rest assured, we won’t rest until we have a new home for Horsham FC.”
The Hornets have been homeless since leaving Queen Street in 2008 and after a year of nomadic existence playing down in Worthing, they relocated to Gorings Mead to groundshare with previous neighbours Horsham YMCA.
That share entered its seventh year last month and will last just one more season, with the Hornets set to vacate on June 30, 2017.
This update marks the first real news on the ground situation for almost eight months.
Although last year the club did announce they had ‘parted ways’ with Croudace Homes - the company who agreed to buy the Holbrook land from the club for housing and build them a ground at the Hop Oast site.
Lines added: “We had to wait six months whilst we were still contracted with Croudace before starting again on finding a new partner to go forward with.
“Numerous factors have changed in the past 12 months and the dynamics are different from a year ago. There has been a new LDF which brings into play the potential for over 2,500 new homes in North Horsham, which will largely satisfy the district’s housing needs for the next five years.
“There has also been a local council election with a number of changes within the administration, and there was a hardening of policy over the number of affordable units that will be required on the Holbrook site, just a matter of days before it went to committee.”
The club are now set to meet with HDC chief executive Tom Crowley and chief planning officer Chris Lyons to determine their next step.
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