IN THE mid-1960s Horsham District council, no doubt lulled by the promise of thousands of jobs of jobs being created, allowed a large company to tear out Horsham’s historic heart.
As late as 1992 HDC allowed additional demolition and replacement with the characterless buildings which bestride the town centre. Now we see the numbers employed down from around 2,500 at the peak to just over 800. Almost certainly that number will continue to shrink as RSA inexhorably removes itself from Horsham. Then what? We will be left with acres of unwanted office space.
Now, in 2012, HDC, heedless of the lessons of history, is playing to the tune of a major corporation seeking to develop north of the A264. It says say that over 4,000 jobs will be created. Oh really? Office blocks do not create jobs. Those jobs are not new jobs.
They are simply additional people being forced to move into the area because their employers have been enticed away from their current offices with large incentives on offer from the developers to occupy these new offices. Dotted around the UK there will be office blocks left vacant because their occupants have moved to Horsham.
Then what? A couple of decades, if not sooner, those office blocks will, in turn, be vacated as the occupiers move, yet again, to incentivised new builds, new builds built, no doubt, on areas which none of the residents want to see developed.
Once the land north of the A264 is built on how soon before the developers are able to justify leaping back onto the south side on the basis that with the concrete jungle on the north side the south side can no longer be called an area of outstanding natural beauty?
Take a look around Horsham. In the town centre (even before RSA totally disappears) around Redkiln Way thousands of vacant square feet. What is the point of us recycling our bottles if HDC will not force developers and property owerns to recycle their vacant properties rather than encroaching on yet another greenfield site?
Visit the office blocks around Gatwick which have never been tenanted, drive around the depressing and increasingly empty wastelands of Manor Royal. There is no shortage of land to build on, simply the lack of incentive for developers and property owners to re-use brownfield sites before moving into the countryside.
As with the historic centre of Horsham, once those fields and views are gone they are destroyed forever.
New Moorhead Drive, Horsham