LETTER: Public tempers will really boil

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I have just listened to a recording of the Cabinet meeting on 23 April 2014 about the proposed plan for Horsham District housing.

A CD recording can be obtained for both this meeting and the 30 April 2014 full council meeting from Horsham District Council (HDC). For those concerned about what Horsham is likely to be like if councillors Ray Dawe, Claire Vickers, Jim Rae and Helena Croft’s plans go ahead, it is compulsive listening.

About 70 minutes into the recording of the cabinet discussion, attention is focused on the traffic impact of building all the proposed housing west of Horsham, north of the A264 and Kilnwood Vale on the A24/A264 corridor linking with the main north/south route at Pease Pottage. A West Sussex County Council traffic ‘expert’ is asked about the WPS study using the modelling system adopted by West Sussex Council (WSCC) which has responsibility for trunk roads.

The highways officer made it clear that WSCC and the Highways Agency have, at this stage, been prepared to sign off the proposed developments because they judge that the impact will not be ‘severe’ if appropriate mitigation measures are introduced.

When asked how he would describe the visual effects of the ‘mitigation’ actions and traffic flows, especially on journeys along the A264, said he couldn’t as the modelling just produced numbers.

At 78 minutes into the recording reference is made to a traffic consultancy report by Peter Brett Associates (PBA) called ‘Transport Infrastructure Report for Liberty’.

Yet when I eventually navigated the extremely confusing HDC website for this, and the WPS traffic reports, I could not find the PBA study. During the cabinet meeting details emerged of five sets of traffic lights along the A264 between Great Daux and Rusper roundabouts, a new roundabout between the two signals at all roundabouts and pedestrian crossings and a much enlarged Rusper roundabout.

How could councillors agree a week later to this plan when clearly the PBA report is not with the transport assessment documents available to all councillors, unless they obtained copies secretly leaving the public out? Since this was raised in a public meeting, HDC must now make the PBA report available to the public.

I note that NPPF allows developers to use up all available infrastructure capacity and at no cost to them. Mitigation measures have only to be introduced where the developer’s proposal would introduce demand beyond the infrastructure capacity (severe), which is what will happen regarding the North of Horsham proposal. Hence, it is acceptable under NPPF for the traffic to get worse than now.

Likely the mitigations measures, traffic lights etc, will leave the infrastructure at maximum capacity, ie, more congested. If we want to improve the capacity then we will have to pay for it and then another developer can come along and use the capacity. Heads, the developer wins - tails, we lose.

Once your readers see what is proposed (and I hope WSCT might obtain and publish from the PBA report a visual representation of what the A264 will look like), I think public tempers will really begin to boil and not just from North Horsham residents but from all Sussex residents who use the A24/A264 corridor.

VALERIE WISE

Owlscastle Close, Horsham