Nik Butler: Brand battle as development comes closer

JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001
JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001

It would appear my article on the identity of North Horsham struck closer to the heart than I believed possible.

Whilst new petitions are being spawned in belated outrage against the incoming development and a few Facebook groups may arise in response to promotional literature it is clear that a considerable part of Horsham identifies itself as being part of North Horsham well before development begins. There is therefore an opportunity to make the most of the inspectorate’s outcome and in ways clearly not envisaged throughout the debates.

North Horsham; an area already defined as a Parish Council and through its four respective wards, created within Roffey and Holbrook, has a distinctive brand and an image which should demand to be recognised over the coming years. Branding and Brand imagery may seem part of the wishy-washy marketing brigade; suitable for website search engine optimization and Powerpoint slides but it is a very real, a very emotive subject, and it can be subverted from its origin if not protected and communicated clearly.

The new development to the north of Horsham will constitute a larger part of the ward of Holbrook West and unless ward boundaries are changed this new development will form a part of the Parish of North Horsham in terms of local government administration.

Providing the Parish of North Horsham continues to avoid freezing its own part in council tax calculations then these new properties will certainly provide a boost to the spending power in North Horsham. I wonder if those in the South who shunned the new build will appreciate that fact in coming years? North Horsham has, for me, represented the heart of Horsham with fewer residents being apparent commuters and a village community feel despite the burden of carriage ways and lack of central green public space. To avoid liberties being taken with the identity of this existing community it may be time for North Horsham to further reinforce its own brand to avoid being considered second fiddle or the poorer relative to the ongoing discussions.

North Horsham should be part of the next level of conversations regarding the consultation; not a few representatives around a table in a meeting room on North Street but the larger elected body identified as representing North Horsham as it is their boundaries, and their electorate, that will be affected when the first soil is struck in those green fields.