Showroom time extension for development a ‘recipe for disaster’

The Highwood sales and marketing suite pictured in 2012
The Highwood sales and marketing suite pictured in 2012

Extending temporary permission for a sales and marketing suite within a Horsham development is a ‘recipe for disaster’, according to one resident who raised road safety concerns.

Berkeley Homes is around halfway through building more than 1,000 homes to the east of the A24 on the edge of the town.

The developer was granted permission by Horsham District Council’s Planning Committee North to keep its sales and marketing suite open until December 2018, as previous consent expired in January.

However concerns about road safety, especially for traffic using the nearby road bridge linking the development with Hills Farm Lane, was raised at the meeting last Tuesday (September 5).

Stephen Batcheler explained how the speed of vehicles entering and exiting Highwood across the bridge was considerable, with a number of accidents and near misses in the past few years.

He said: “Extending the marketing suite until December 2018 will only exacerbate the current problems and this mix of pedestrians and vehicles is a recipe for disaster which has the potential to lead to a really major accident.”

He explained how when he moved into his new home five years ago he was told the bridge would be downgraded for cyclists, pedestrians and emergency vehicles only, within 18 months,

Mr Batcheler asked for a fixed date when the bridge would be downgraded, parking restrictions outside the marketing suite as there is a car park next to it, and clear and extensive signs for speed limits and road conditions.

Olivia Forsyth, speaking for Berkeley Homes, explained that the bridge is due to be downgraded this autumn and a new sales suite would open on the southern half of the site once properties began to be completed there.

Traffic will then enter and exit the development from the A24.

Adrian Lee (Con, Denne) said: “This has gone on long enough and residents are entitled to have a clear view about when that bridge is going to be closed and some relief from the difficulties they have experienced.”

He suggested that while they could not turn down the application, they could attach a ‘robust’ set of conditions.

Tony Hogben (Con, Denne) added: “I would like to get the bridge closed as soon as possible.”