Football needs better provision not more, and not in the countryside.
I have read the recent articles regarding Horsham FC’s plans for a new ground, and followed the WSCT website comments with interest.
HFC are in danger of doing a deal with the Devil; selling off two much-loved pitches for yet more houses at Holbrook, and HDC’s supposed ‘assistance’ (HDC facilitating an Option deal to purchase land from the golf course on Denne Park; Worthing Road) looks like being another bum steer for the beleaguered club.
If HFC, HDC and the community of Horsham town want football to thrive and be available to all, then the answer cannot be to move it miles across town, and especially not to a countryside location where development is specifically prevented by decades old (and new draft) planning policy.
HFC tell us they need seven days a week utilisation; not just for HFC training and matches, but of their various function rooms, and for the other clubs who would be displaced from Holbrook. This would lead to maximised use of the 3G all-weather pitches, evenings and weekends.
Any proposed location will essentially fall foul of the same planning policies to some extent, but the Worthing Road site (not Hop Oast please - that is a car park and amenity tip, and to label the new pitches as being at Hop Oast is very misleading), is protected by many more polices than other locations.
The reason why the 18 hole golf course was granted planning in 2009 is because it complements the general character of the area and it meets the ‘Quiet and Informal Recreation’ criteria mandated for such rural areas.
A golf course can also improve ecology and biodiversity, but paving over 5.5 acres with car parks, a large clubhouse/function rooms and artificial pitches, erecting fences and floodlights is so far out of line with policies it’s incredulous to understand that HDC have ‘provided pre-planning advice’ to HFC.
Things are moving fast with the Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre development, with far greater provision for football than anyone previously imagined being proposed.
So BBHLC won’t have been on the list of possible sites considered when HDC promised to help HFC find a new home in 2008/9.
Understandably, BBH FC and HFC won’t want to share, but there seems to be room for all. Surely a better option is to keep the Full FA specification match-day pitch amongst the proposed new football pitches (alongside the A24 and retail parks, where noise and floodlights are no issue), and for HFC to show a real commitment to Holbrook by adding a 3G juniors pitch there too?
Using the £ millions from a contentious land sale at Holbrook, and saving the public purse/serving the community in one fell swoop.
Let’s not have an own-goal please HDC; BBHLC would really benefit from some of HFC’s cash.
Wait a little longer please HFC; you will win hearts and minds, and you will get a better solution for everyone.
Worthing Road, Horsham