Letter: North Horsham - ‘legalised vandalism’

I WRITE (yet again) regarding the proposed development on the side of the A264 within the ‘Strategic Gap’ between Horsham and Crawley. For many years I have objected to this development in many phases, but to even consider a new huge housing development in the present economic climate is beyond belief!

I have been putting my objections forward every time this development has been raised for the last 30-plus years, and my opinion remains the same. There should be no further development within the strategic gap. My reasoning remains the same, that if residents of Horsham wanted to be part of Crawley they would have purchased their homes there.

The promise of a new hospital is the ‘dangling of the carrot’ to persuade us to agree to this but this has been promised so many times before that we no longer believe these false promises.

Correspondence from myself on this was printed in the County Times in February 1991 and May 2009 and also back in the 1980s.I also draw readers’ attention to your ‘County Times Comment’ entitled ‘Legalised vandalism’ published on February 22, 1991.What happened to the promise that when the A264 was built that there would be no further green field development?

Your Comment read:

LOCAL control over the landscape was effectively declared redundant this week by a High Court Judge – backed by the Department of the Environment.

It means that no green field, no woodland, no designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty can be called safe. Destruction of the countryside is now official policy.

That is the only interpretation that can come out of the High Court verdict to allow a five acre commercial development at the heart of the ‘green gap’ between Horsham and Crawley.

It is a stunning and disastrous decision which will have repercussions throughout our region for many years to come.For more than a decade both West Sussex County Council and Horsham District Council have pinpointed the ‘strategic gap’ between the towns of Horsham and Crawley as paramount for protection.

This policy had been cast in stone by the County Structure Plan and fully accepted by the Secretary of State for the Environment as being wholly sensible.That was, until 1989 when a DoE inspector unbelievably allowed an exception to slip through the net. A big exception, amounting to a petrol station, two restaurants, and a huge car park at Buchan Hill forest.

Sometimes individual inspectors can go off their rockers, and in a bold bid to rectify this aberration, our district council went to the High Court last week armed with powerful evidence, only to have the judge rule against them.In effect, the establishment has said that commercial interests take precedence over conservation; the legitimate efforts of local government to properly control its own environment have been declared invalid.

It would appear that we are entering an ominous era of legalised vandalism.

Already the council has spent thousands of pounds defending this green site. It will cost more if a challenge in the Appeal Court is mounted.

That is a scandal. It is the Secretary of State for the Environment who is responsible for this fiasco, and someone must bring him to his senses.

MARION D’ARCY

Lambs Farm Close, Horsham