More than 100 people came to last week’s exhibition about housing for part of the landmark Novartis site in Horsham.
On Wednesday (May 21) Linden Homes showed residents its proposals on display at Holbrook Tythe Barn in Pondtail Road before submitting a full planning application to Horsham District Council (HDC)this summer.
The proposals for the northern part of the pharmaceutical giant’s Horsham site include plans for 160 homes comprising of two, three and four bedroom houses and a mix of apartments in Parsonage Road.
The area, which is currently home to a playing field and a car park, would also contain 300 parking spaces.
Linden Homes told residents it would bring £22million into the Horsham economy and around 240 jobs on site during the construction phase.
Peter Youll, regional managing director for Linden Homes, said: “We had a good turnout and it was a great opportunity for us to meet, and understand the views of, local residents.
“I want to thank all those who took the time to attend and I hope that it proved useful to them.
“Horsham has an acute need for housing and we are pleased that we are able to produce plans for a brownfield site that would help to reduce the need for development of greenfield land in the area.”
He added: “While change is always unsettling, I’m encouraged that most people can see the merits of delivering homes on this site.
“We will continue to work with our neighbours to discuss their concerns and ideas: we have a strong commitment to working closely with communities as we develop our proposals. We will now be reviewing all the feedback we receive and will look to incorporate this into our final plans, where possible and appropriate.”
Linden Homes has liaised with the council’s arboreal officer to ensure the most important trees were kept and, if planning permission is granted, a large oak tree would form the centre-piece to the development.
Some 120 people, including parish and district councillors came to see the exhibition in its five-hour duration.
Residents had mixed views about what they saw.
Maureen Weedon lives in Thatchers Close and her house backs on to the playing field.
She said: “We cannot buy a view. It’s no use me complaining. At the moment we have got lovely trees. We have had it for a long time. We’ve been there 30 years. It’s just one of those things.
“I don’t think it will take away value away from our house. It’s just when you step out there in the morning hearing the birds singing.”
Jane Ross, whose house in Thatchers Close also backs onto the site, said: “I would have liked to see more trees retained.
“I accept as developers they have to develop and make as much profit as they can from the site, but my personal interest means I am sorry to hear that.
“We have to accept, what will be will be. I do not believe this consultation will result in much changing.
“It’s not a shock because I am a realist and I know they will not be able to keep trees. I am disappointed there are not any shown there.”
Others had different concerns. Alan Smith, of Allcard Close said: “I am a bit concerned there are four-storey buildings. Will they overlook us? They seem to have done a good job. There used to be an arboretum there. I am pleased they are retaining [the trees] on the border.
“The only thing I’m concerned about is the height of those blocks. We were a bit worried they would open up Allcard Close with everyone coming through to walk to school, but they aren’t.”
Another Thatchers Close resident Maggie Wilson said: “They are looking very nice. There’s housing going on everywhere - 57 houses going up at the back of Holbrook.
“What bothers me is all these people coming in, but we are no further forward with a new hospital. Also the traffic at the bottom of Parsonage Road is awful at the moment.
“I’m at the back of the railway, so I don’t suppose it will affect me, but I feel for the people who will be backing onto the development. What about the wildlife.”
Subject to planning permission, Linden Homes, which is based in Guildford hopes to start building early next year.
The decision by Novartis to move off the site was the result of a global review of research locations. It will cease research operations there by the end of June.
It has appointed the firm PharmaVentures to recruit other medical or science companies to move into the site south of Parsonage Road.
In statement released last month a spokesman for Novartis said: “Novartis previously announced in February that we would be closing the Horsham site this year following a global review of research locations and a consultation process with associates.
“We expect research operations at the site to cease by the end of June 2014 but are committed to exploring options for the future of the site.
“These options could include reusing part of the site for a science or business park, and creating a legacy with the possibility of some highly skilled jobs for the area in the future.
“We have appointed PharmaVentures to assist us in providing expert advice on the feasibility of doing this, and to help identify potential partners. In the meantime, we will sell the north part of the site, mainly used as the current car park, to the developer Linden Homes.
“This sale of the land will be complete by September 1 2014, after which time Linden Homes will be responsible for the land north of Parsonage Road.
“No work will go ahead on this land until associates have left the Horsham site in June.”
To view Linden Homes’ proposals so far go to the www.lindenhomes.co.uk/community/parsonageroad