Horsham Football Club’s (HFC) plan for a football complex off the Worthing Road Hop Oast recalls their previous attempt in 2002 – at the very same location!
That application was withdrawn against a background of horrified objection both to the chutzpah of their ambitions as well as the potential destruction of green space in the strategic gap between Southwater and Horsham that previous council policies have fought doggedly to preserve.
Now they are at it again, but with a different strategy - this time they have adopted a humbler public face. But the problem they have difficulty in explaining is this: to play in the League they must adhere to FA ground requirements, which at their level mandate a minimum ground capacity of 1,300 spectators, expandable to 1,950, and with floodlighting generating 180 lux.
If they win promotion to a higher level (and good luck to them, it’s not impossible, they were there in 2011) they would need to be able to expand the ground to cope with 3,000 spectators. These are the rules, and there are no exemptions.
It really doesn’t make their case any better by only planning seating for 300 – it’s the total capacity that they must build for, including standing spectators.
We are not fooled. Nor is there much of a case for saying that their current gate is tiny because every club aspires to expand.
What will it be in ten years’ time? Won’t they want to apply later for bigger and better stands? And if it remains tiny, what is the point of moving away from groundshare?
This proposal is simply not appropriate at this site. To be against it is not to be anti-football, or even anti-HFC.
Many HFC supporters must be aghast at the prospect of their club being shoehorned into a tiny space with no room for expansion. And then we are told that the project is only economically viable with artificial turf, ignoring the fact that the FA has rejected 3G, and that this will exclude any further progress up the League!
So don’t they want to play League football? If not, they should tell us. The club and its long suffering supporters deserves better than this, and frankly, if this is the best ‘help’ that the council can provide, it would have been better had they left well alone. What about other opportunities? Broadbridge Heath? The Novartis site?
And let’s not get into the doubtful integrity of a council acting as judge and jury in its own case. HDC acted as the prime mover here, by itself taking out an option on this site on behalf of HFC.
This is truly shocking. If permission is finally granted, who is going to believe that the council is truly independent?
Denne Park, Worthing Road, Horsham