LETTER: Strategy fails with Novartis closure

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Your letters

Doesn’t the availability of the Novartis site change the whole basis upon which Horsham District Council prepared its Preferred Strategy?

The soon to be vacant Novartis site covers 25.6 acres and has in excess of 500,000 sq ft of commercial and industrial buildings (with room for much more).

How can councillors Rae, Dawe and Vickers continue to justify digging up acres of our green fields in North Horsham, to erect a 500,000 sq ft building when all that, plus 250,000 sq ft of other empty buildings in and around Horsham, plus the so far undisclosed total of brownfield land, are available in the district?

Paragraph 111 in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework ( NPPF) states ‘Planning policies and decisions should encourage the effective use of land by re-using land that has been previously developed (brownfield land)’.

Horsham District Council knew when developing its Preferred Strategy that part of this site was becoming available yet did not include a full appraisal of this and other brownfield sites in their flawed plan.

In fact the council has still not completed its brownfield site analysis. This meant that residents’ and interest groups had both hands tied behind their backs when considering the council’s Preferred Strategy.

We know there are 250,000 sq ft of industrial and commercial space already vacant in the district and with the addition of this extensive space and quality buildings the total available commercial and industrial space will be substantially increased.

We still don’t know how many companies have actually booked space on the proposed Liberty industrial park.

Only recently in this paper the leader of the council, Ray Dawe, wrote his regular piece under the headline ‘Council provides catalyst for a flood of investment’.

Well a week later and those words ring hollow. It’s clear that councillor Dawe had no idea of this decision by Novartis or he would not have written his article.

And since councillor Dawe had no idea of Novartis pulling out of the town I suspect he and councillor Vickers still have no idea which companies, if any, will be coming to occupy the 500,000 sq ft industrial park in the strategic gap.

The freeing of the Novartis space is clearly another nail in the coffin of HDC’s Preferred Strategy.

We no longer need North Horsham as a strategic location

JONATHAN REYNOLDS

Sloughbrook Close, Horsham