Redevelopment of Horsham’s historic mill a ‘tragedy’

JPCT 300914 S14410293x hornost, then and now. Worthing Road, Prewett's Mill -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140930-124616001
JPCT 300914 S14410293x hornost, then and now. Worthing Road, Prewett's Mill -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140930-124616001

Residents have described plans to redevelop one of Horsham’s historic landmarks as a ‘tragedy’.

McCarthy & Stone, the developers who provide privately owned retirement properties, announced earlier this week that they were interested in redeveloping Prewetts Mill, in Worthing Road, and the site surrounding the historic building.

The mill, built in 1861, has been standing in Horsham for more than 150 years but now remains empty and is on the market for potential redevelopment.

A spokesman from McCarthy & Stone said that the company had ‘acquired an interest’ in the land and were proposing to redevelop it to provide ‘assisted living accommodation’.

The company spokesman added: “Horsham District Council has omitted the site from the local list of buildings of historic interest as the redevelopment in recent years has destroyed much of the building’s integrity.”

But residents at Homestream House, a private sheltered housing estate behind the proposed development, said they were outraged with the proposals.

Greg Hawkins, who lives at one of the properties on the estate, said: “It is an outrage, Prewetts Mill is part of the history of Horsham. They are talking about demolishing it. It has been around for many years and I for one feel it should stay here for many more.”

Greg’s neighbour Shirley Wheeldon said: “It would be a tragedy to lose Prewetts Mill.

“I am sad about the news because it doesn’t add to the atmosphere of living in a lovely town with nothing but flats everywhere.”

Dorothy Hubbard agreed. She said: “We need to keep it. It is a thing like Prewetts Mill that made Horsham and will keep it as the market town it is.”

The estate held a meeting on Monday where they discussed the potential build and it wasn’t just the future of the mill that was concerning residents. Issues were raised about the noise, safety and the impact it would have on the residents including access to the houses and parking as there is only one road into the properties.

Jill Clark said: “My main concern is access. If there is building work happening on the road how are we going to get in or out, there is only one road. We get four or five ambulances a week here. What will we do if they can’t get in?”

Gladys Elder agreed with Jill. She said: “I do not mind if the building goes, it is not a very nice looking building, but a lot of people have to go through that road. A lot of older people have to go through that road and need access to it.”

Of the 21 residents who attended the meeting 19 voted against the proposed plans.

The Horsham Society has also been informed by the developers about the build.

A spokesman for the society said: “McCarthy & Stone invited the Horsham Society to view its initial plans for this scheme. We are sorry that they do not intend to incorporate the remaining parts of the old mill and that the historic name ‘Prewetts Mill’ will disappear.

“We are also disappointed that the proposed design is rather bland for this important site on one of the main gateways to the town.

“McCarthy & Stone are still consulting over the design and we look forward to seeing what changes may follow.”

A spokesman for McCarthy & Stone said: “McCarthy & Stone, Britain’s leading retirement builder, has acquired an interest in land at Prewetts Mill, Worthing Road, Horsham, and is proposing to redevelop the site with assisted living (Extra Care) accommodation.

“McCarthy & Stone has reviewed the site and its wider context, and whilst the Mill is older, the stripping of its interior, the attachment to the neighbouring office block, and the removal of the south east wall, have all contributed to its loss of character. Horsham District Council has omitted the site from the local list of buildings of historic interest as the redevelopment in recent years has destroyed much of the building’s integrity.

“A pre-application community consultation programme has begun which will inform local people such as residents, businesses and interest groups, as well as offering an opportunity for people to provide feedback, which would, where possible, be incorporated into the final proposals prior to the submission of a formal planning application.

“McCarthy & Stone is committed to engaging with the local community and will be offering residents the opportunity to meet with the project team to discuss the early proposals in the coming weeks. This will ensure residents and stakeholders can view and comment on the proposed plans and allow local people to speak with the team and provide feedback.”

McCarthy & Stone believe that Horsham is an area where there is a need for this type of accommodation. The firm recently met with immediate neighbours of the site to give them an opportunity to view the early proposals, prior to a public exhibition to inform the wider community.”