Driving between Horsham and Billingshurst has become a bit of a nightmare recently. On a recent Monday lunchtime I was stuck in a long queue of traffic on the A264 by Tesco’s, inching along towards the roundabout which is being constructed to serve the new Wickhurst Green development.
I wondered if this traffic jam was going to be the sort of thing we can look forward to all over this area in the future, when the Wickhurst Green development has been completed and the additional 2,500 new homes have been built on the green fields to the north of Horsham.
Speaking of that proposed huge development on countryside in the strategic gap between Horsham and Crawley, I noticed Horsham District Council has included an article about it in its latest ‘Horsham District News’.
One would think from reading it that a decision has already been made to let it go ahead, despite the council’s oft-repeated mantra about consultation.
The article says – and I quote – ‘A proportion of the homes will be designated to meet local needs...’ That word ‘will’ gives the game away. Someone should have edited that out and replaced it with the word ‘could’.
As it stands, it sounds like a fait accompli to me. And exactly what proportion are they talking about? Will it be the 40 per cent which has been the desired proportion for new development recently (never actually accomplished as far as I know) or will it be much less?
I have a horrible premonition that the developers will find out (when it’s too late to do anything about it, of course) that they are unable to provide any more than a very small proportion of affordable homes to meet local needs.
My guess is that there will be an influx of newcomers to accommodate the ‘luxury’ new builds. They could well be commuters who will use the proposed new station to travel to London to work, leaving the new development as a dormitory town.
The idea of a site for a new hospital has already been quietly ditched (I wonder if this was part of an arrangement with the developers to reduce the number of homes from the 4,000 original mooted, to the 2,500 which are now on the cards?)
I notice the article mentions ‘a primary school and a site for a secondary school’. Is this a firm undertaking, or just another carrot along the ‘site for a new hospital’ lines?
Returning to my time in the traffic jam by the new Wickhurst Green site, I had the opportunity to look at some of the attractive pictures at the entrance to the site. Presumably they are there to show possible house buyers what a lovely lifestyle they can look forward to if they buy a house in Wickhurst Green.
Happy families stroll through the green countryside or sit outside under a canopy of trees, to enjoy an al fresco meal.
Frankly, if all this new development goes ahead there will be precious few areas of open countryside or woodland around here for any of us to enjoy. Sad, isn’t it?
Dorking Road, Warnham