FOR some councillors and staff at Horsham District Council Tesco’s historic interest in acquiring land adjacent to its Broadbridge Heath superstore was ‘the worst kept secret in Horsham’.
But the shock, anger and public backlash that resulted from the proposal to make way for possible development by decommissioning Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre last November clearly demonstrated the majority of residents were unaware such a proposition was being mooted in the local corridors of power.
Now, a public consultation based on a new document published yesterday by the council – the Draft Broadbridge Heath Quadrant Planning Brief - will bring some transparency to the controversial issue.
The Quadrant, shown above, currently contains the Tesco superstore, a retail park, West Sussex County Council depot, bowls club, Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre and associated athletics track.
The new report states ‘the site has grown up sporadically over the years’ with ‘piecemeal development’, but due to its location adjacent to the permitted west of Horsham 2,000-home development it ‘will have an increasingly important relationship with this area’.
It has been highlighted by the council as a ‘strategically important piece of land’ ripe for development, as have other areas of the town including Hurst Road.
The Quadrant Brief has been ‘produced with the primary aim of putting in place a set of clear principles for any future development’ of the site.
It lays out proposals for a mixed use development including expansion of the supermarket, bringing in new retail units for ‘bulky goods’, building a hotel and ‘family orientated restaurant’.
The plans are clear that any development should not detract from retail and leisure facilities offered in Horsham town centre.
Explaining the vision for the area the Draft Plan states: “Broadbridge Heath Quadrant will continue to be a successful out of town retail location with enhanced connections to the surrounding areas including the proposed residential development.
“Proposed retail development will be subject to significant scrutiny to ensure that it does not have any negative effect on the vitality and viability of the town centre.
“Expansion of the foodstore is considered to be acceptable alongside retail distribution facilities.
“Units selling bulky goods will also be acceptable. However, retail units which would otherwise be well suited to a town centre location will not be accepted.”
Due to the current usage leisure ‘is still considered to be a suitable use for this site’, as is housing. The report states: “The site is considered suitable for a small amount of residential use, both market and affordable, to help meet additional local needs.
The Draft Plan also includes public transport needs, infrastructure and appropriate landscaping for a retail park such as this.
HDC Cabinet is expected to finalise the Quadrant plans a meeting on Thursday May 3 with a public consultation running from May 5 to June 5, when there will be exhibitions in leisure centres around the district.
It will run alongside the consultation about the future of Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre. The final plans are then expected to be agreed by the full council on Wednesday June 27. The draft can be viewed at www.horsham.gov.uk.