New school ‘wonderful idea’ but village was ‘disgracefully misled’

Barns Green new school in conjunction with 69 new homes (submitted).

Barns Green new school in conjunction with 69 new homes (submitted).

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Barns Green was disgracefully misled over a new school which the county council should be providing - according to district councillors who voted on Tuesday to defer a decision on the plans.

Members of Horsham District Council’s Development Control North Committee did not approve a new school for Itchingfield Primary School and 69 new homes north of Two Mile Ash Road - to allow negotiation with the developer to provide at least some affordable housing.

Stuart Ritchie (Con, Itchingfield, Slinfold and Warnham) demanded the scheme be approved. He said: “The decision before this planning committee is possibly transformational for this community.

“The fact is that if planning permission is not granted the school will close.”

Supporter Andrew Crossley said a new school was needed to safeguard a vibrant and dynamic community and villagers believed plans an acceptable compromise of benefits and concessions.

While some like Christian Mitchell (Con, Holbrook West) thought that they should not be prisoners to policy on affordable housing and they should be treated as guidelines not tramlines, the majority disagreed.

Proposing deferral Roy Cornell (Con, Roffey South) said: “It’s a wonderful idea for that school to be replaced.

“However the reason that building has been deteriorated is not the responsibility of Horsham District Council. It’s the responsibility of West Sussex County Council.

“I’m not very happy we will have a development with no provision for affordable housing. I believe there is an opportunity for affordable housing.”

David Holmes (LDem, Horsham Park) said the school and parish council had been disgracefully misled.

He added: “I would like to see a new school, but it should not be paid for by taking away homes to fund a new school that county should be paying for.”

Jim Rae (Con, Holbrook East) was one of six councillors who voted against referral, trumpeting the scheme as a test of true localism and fully supported the community of Barns Green’s aspirations.