Offices set to become homes

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COUNCILLORS delegated with a view to approval plans to turn offices at a Faygate business centre into homes.

Officers recommended refusal due to the Newhouse Business Centre in Old Crawley Road being outside the built-up area boundary and unsustainable and its proximity to adjacent business units and farm buildings, with the length of the building abutting an agricultural barn.

But members of Horsham District Council’s development management committee felt it was very close to Roffey, had bus stops, easy access to roads and plenty of parking spaces.

They agreed to delegate it to set conditions and have consultation on use of adjacent buildings.

Applicant Max Walton said there was an oversupply of office space in Horsham district due to the economic downturn and the change in the working environment.

Of the 20 units, five had failed to attract tenants in the last 18 months and he needed to diversify and spread the risk.

“Change of use is not something I wanted to do, especially with the cost involved,” he said.

“These are radical times and we have to make radical decisions.”

Liz Kitchen (Con, Rusper and Colgate) disagreed with the officers, saying the site was ‘very close to Roffey’ and ‘even calling it countryside was a bit unsure’.

Jim Rae (Con, Holbrook East) agreed it was ‘just on the edge of town’ with plenty of parking spaces and little in the way of alterations to the outside of the building.

“I rather like this,” said Roy Cornell (Con, Roffey South), commenting on the tranquillity of the site and its beautiful views.

“There are other private residents very close. I can’t understand how anybody could say it is unsustainable.”

Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater) said she was usually keen not to build outside the built-up boundary but she could see no problem.

Leonard Crosbie (LDem, Trafalgar) said it looked ‘quasi residential’ as it was but pointed out they could not allow this at every industrial estate which ran into difficulties.

Dr David Holmes (LDem, Horsham Park) said he was concerned about creating future problems by going against their policy.

John Chidlow (Con, Southwater) was also concerned about setting a ‘dangerous precedent’.