Concerns have been raised that Horsham District Council could be ‘embarrassed’ by Westrock, the developer behind the ‘West End’ project.
At a meeting of North Horsham Parish Council on Thursday September 4, members discussed the developer’s work at Holbrook’s Tythe Barn, where Horsham Bowling Club were set to move in.
It was noted that the council’s main contacts with the developer had left the company, Westrock had failed to make payments in the region of £20,000 to the parish council’s advisors on time, and building work had not been finished, leaving part of the barn ‘unavailable for public use’.
In an email sent to HDC, parish council clerk Sue Kemp said the project has been ‘tarnished by Westrock’.
She added that ‘it is hoped that the district council will not be embarrassed by Westrock, as the parish council has been; and does not experience the same problems and issues that the parish council has’.
Westrock have now begun work on a £35m redevelopment of the ‘West End’ of Horsham town centre, which will include new retail stores and a car park.
The bowling club has moved from their former home on the Bishopric to make way for the development.
Roger Wilton, chairman of the parish council, said he had met with the bowling club amid suggestions from the clerk that ‘joining with the bowls club may be stronger than acting alone’.
He said: “I have met with them (the bowling club) and sympathise, and they do with us.
“As far as Tythe Barn is concerned we haven’t lost revenue because the old part of the hall has been available and has been leased throughout the period of the works.
“The problem, as with a lot of buildings, is getting people to finish the work to a standard that is acceptable.
“We are in a difficult situation at the moment.”
Mike Brakes asked Mr Wilton if the council had any ‘leverage to ensure performance so there will be no loss to the parish council’.
The chairman said: “If necessary, we would take legal advice.”
Nicholas Butler said: “As far as I can say we are exactly where we thought we would be, we are not on the back foot.
“It is not going to be good for Westrock, considering they have struck ground on the other side of Horsham, when they are having a conversation here about quality of work.
“I can understand there is a high turnaround of staff but it shouldn’t impact the quality of the work.”
Peter Burgess added: “I think as it is now going forward, it is probably better for us not to pressurise and just make sure the work gets done.”
Councillors agreed to monitor the situation.