LETTER: We must make our voices heard

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Residents across North Horsham and beyond have received recently a smart leaflet detailing plans for development in the North Horsham area by development company Liberty Holdings.

The brochure presented ‘an update’ on the land, almost and cleverly presenting the development as a foregone conclusion – all we have to do now is settle on a name. Why wouldn’t you want to support it?

What this represents is a game changer for the campaigning groups such as RAGE and Save Horsham as well as the individual protesters. While they do not have the money (and perhaps the PR experts) on hand to produce a glossy brochure, the arguments for protecting the area to North Horsham have to be publicised now more than ever.

The campaign groups need to continue to highlight the importance of the area with the positives as well as the negatives. Leaflets that are long, rambling and overtly negative get thrown away. We must continue to highlight the impact of this development, and why people should care.

For me, the area north of the bypass A264 is too valuable to lose to development. It’s an important green space between Horsham and Crawley currently used by people from both towns and surrounding villages such as Rusper and Warnham.

Protected from development by previous councillors, it’s an important breathing space; its footpaths could be made even more accessible to walkers and cyclists by safer access across the bypass.

The proposals for the business park don’t stack up with so many vacant spaces in Horsham, another new supermarket would surely not only put local businesses under risk and add to congestion from neighbouring towns and villages but contradict efforts to get people to buy and ‘think’ local.

Littlehaven station has recently had extended platforms in construction and serves as a major station for the area. More homes are needed in Horsham, but studies from the Campaign to Protect Rural England have shown that land must be used wisely and that brown field sites must be the first alternative.

Perhaps surprisingly a quarter of brownfield sites in the South East are currently going unused (CPRE Study). Requested by the council, residents in the area have been forthcoming on alternative brownfield sites to accommodate the 1,000 homes that have been officially assigned to the area.

Property developers often prefer greenfield sites, there is less work to do in preparation and access is easier. Suggestions for footbridges over the bypass and offers to build a new station are sweeteners.

There’s a lot of money in this development. We should consider seriously the environmental, health and long term effects before we lose this major space of countryside for the people in this region. With finite land space in the South, as part of the strategic gap between Horsham and neighbouring villages and towns, once it’s gone it’s gone. Landscaping or low carbon homes cannot change that.

Growth is important. Homes for local people are needed, but it has to be done in a sustainable way protecting the environment, character of the area and ultimately our quality of life.

Instead of constant expansion to maximise profit, longer term solutions to encourage sustainable growth and protect wildlife are key.

There are alternatives and it is not a foregone conclusion. Campaign groups have done a huge amount to encourage us to get involved, North Horsham Parish Council has made its statement, we now need to continue to persuade residents with the facts and the emotions.

Some decisions may have already been taken at the council level, but it is up to us to make our voices heard.

CHRIS PAUL

Brook Road, Horsham