Alarmed at Barns Green homes plan

AS A RESIDENT of Itchingfield parish, of which Barns Green is a part, I am considerably alarmed by the proposal to build nearly 100 houses on the outskirts of that village.

The suggestion raises the prospect of a new urban community stretching from a greatly enlarged Billingshurst, through a Greater Barns Green and on to the new urban township of Broadbridge Heath, all part of the City of Greater Horsham.

I wonder if that is what people living in Horsham district actually want.

Berkeley Homes plc has offered to build a new school in Barns Green at a cost to itself of £4m, but only on condition that it is allowed to build up to 85 houses on two sites in and just outside the community.

Indeed, the spokesperson for the company at the public meeting held in the village on the evening of July 21 boasted that it might be done for the profit arising from the construction of 60 houses.

This is interesting because it gives an insight into just how much cash can be generated by wrecking our countryside.

On these figures, the construction of one house as part of such a scheme can be expected to generate between £40,000 and £66,000 and it is thus hardly surprising that developers flock into West Sussex, in the same way that men (and women) rushed into the Klondike in 1849 after gold was discovered there.

There was a previous attempt to build a school in Two Mile Ash road of course, in 2002, linked to the construction of housing.

Planning permission was refused by Horsham District Council (HDC) at that time because Barns Green was adjudged to be an unsustainable location, the ground where the school is to be built floods in winter and the road that fronts the site is dangerous.

None of that has changed, but what has changed is that developers cannot sell their new houses because of the desperate economic climate.

For example, planning permission has been given to build 2,000 houses at Broadbridge Heath yet we hear that only 200 houses will be built per year for the foreseeable future because of the difficulties in finding buyers for them.

Building a school will tend to warp people’s judgement and of course, this is not how local authority schools should be funded.

If indeed a new school is required in Barns Green then surely it would be better to wait for the economic climate to recover and the county council’s fortunes to be improved, when Horsham District Council can take a properly balanced view of the potential application by Berkeley Homes.

However, as a confirmed cynic, I wonder if we shall get the houses but the school will not actually materialise for a variety of reasons.

The populace of the parish of Itchingfield ought to agitate for a local referendum on the issue, on the lines of those held recently in Billingshurst and Southwater, should the idea turn into a planning application.

GEORGE W. TRIBE

The Coopers, Itchingfield