Letter: Active talks on North Horsham kept secret

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THE WHOLE saga of the announcements in the County Times on a proposed and massive development in North Horsham beggars belief. Although perhaps on second thoughts and looking at track records, it shouldn’t.

From our research it is now clear that discussions between the developer and landowners have been active for at least 18 months, and no doubt there have been discussions with Horsham District Council, both members and officers at senior levels.

The County Times stated in an article on January 5 that it had been briefed off the record on what the council had in mind, even quoting that previous leader Robert Nye was preparing for a public debate in January.

When HDC councillors for Holbrook West are contacted it becomes equally clear that they had been kept in the dark, and yet these are the very people who represent residents affected by such a development.

Do we have yet another example of a ‘them and us’ mentality at the HDC, with a Cabinet structure so far removed from reality that the ‘backbenchers’ are simply that?

Haven’t we seen this time and again with the resultant mess on the leisure centre, and more?

It does bring into question the competency of the highly paid and provided for executive as we witness one PR failure after another.

In light of the council leadership contest I would suggest this whole issue of Cabinet and others should be part of any manifesto.

It is time for more democracy, more openness, and more consideration for the people they represent.

Returning to the proposed North Horsham development, we as residents of this continually threatened area engage with county and local authorities and have done so for the past 12 years.

We met members and senior officials of both WSCC and HDC on September 7 last, and besides other matters, the Strategic Housing 2026 and beyond was discussed.

At that time, and still, there were a number of optional areas under review.

The planning department emphasised that community consultation was a key element of the strategic planning agenda, and that consultation with residents on the next stage would take place within a few months, with Horsham residents having the opportunity to express their views on the plan.

It is true to say there has not been a word since then, not even after the publication on January 5.

There continues to be much said about the lack of consultation. Somewhere, it features every week in the County Times in some way or another.

Finally, I would suggest that a new hospital is little more than ‘hype’ and a sweetener to persuade the Horsham public to accept such a massive increase in the size of Horsham.

After all the A264 northern bypass was so sited to mark the boundary of Horsham to the north and ensure some semblance of gap between Horsham and Crawley.

I would be the first to agree that Horsham requires a hospital with A&E, but not simply a private facility – there are plenty of these already in the area.

I cannot believe that any hospital planner would permit a location adjacent to an active brickworks, with a planning permission to double its size, and adjacent to an active landfill site with its own history.

BRIAN JOHNSON

Langhurstwood Road, Horsham