LIKE most of the residents of Billingshurst, we have just received formal notification from Horsham District Council of a planning application for 550 houses on the eastern side of the village, the application that featured in the County Times.
The council knows full well that the majority of residents object to this development, indeed to any new housing development, and it will be interesting to see how our elected representatives respond to the objections they will undoubtedly receive.
I am happy to give HDC a number of reasons why they should not allow the building of a further 550 houses in Billingshurst.
The developer has promised land to accommodate a new primary school, a new doctors’ surgery, dentists’ surgery and a crèche.
It is important to note that the developer is not offering to build these facilities – just provide the land which, if previous information is to be believed, it already owns. Where would the money for these projects come from? l Without the new houses the existing primary school can probably cope. What is not mentioned is the Weald School. Natural progression means that children move on to secondary education. The Weald is already full and although HDC does not publicise the fact, but will admit it if directly asked, children who might have expected to attend the Weald will be bussed to either Horsham or Midhurst. Are the builders and HDC insisting that only families with young children move into any new houses?
Jobs. There are no jobs available in Billingshurst, few in Horsham and not many in Crawley or the surrounding area. So where exactly does HDC expect the owners and occupiers of these new houses to work? According to those interviewed by the County Times, rail commuters can no longer afford to commute.
Existing house sales. The market is sluggish if not outright stagnant.
So without a significant change in the housing market, this development is likely to be spread over a substantial number of years which means that Billingshurst is going to be a major building site for a very long time.
Affordable Homes. This is a misnomer and a ploy by politicians and house builders to persuade people they are doing something for low income families to justify large housing schemes. Affordable housing is not affordable by young people, first time buyers and low income families who cannot raise a deposit sufficient to obtain a mortgage.
On most recent sites the original number of smaller homes has been lowered to increase the profit for the builders.
Amenities. There are no amenities in Billingshurst for young people such as cinema, theatre and clubs that are available in Horsham and Crawley. This is why we have rowdy teenagers hanging around Jengers Mead precinct, the village green, the station and the pubs. Adding another 550 houses is going to make this situation worse.
Infrastructure. Southern Water already has difficulty supplying water to the existing houses. We were fortunate that a change in the weather avoided a hosepipe ban this year but many years have seen hosepipe bans and one year we were very close to having standpipes installed in the streets.
As anyone who drives into Horsham, Dorking or Crawley or home again during the rush hour will tell you, the roads are already chock a block.
The journey from Billingshurst to Horsham that can take ten to 15 minutes during the day can take 30 to 40 minutes between 7.30 and 8.30 in the morning. Extra houses means extra traffic on the roads.
Loss of greenfields. It used to be the case that green fields were protected to provide a clean, safe and pleasant environment for people to enjoy. We cannot as a nation continue to concrete over our natural resources.
Housing demand. HDC has repeatedly failed to show that there is a demand for more housing in Billingshurst or Southwater.
Indeed a recent Government survey showed that people, particularly young people, do not want to live in villages where there is little or nothing to do.
We already have a number of ‘small’ building sites underway in the village so let us hope that HDC, the schools and doctors etc. are ready for the extra people, children, traffic.
I am sure there are many more reasons why further housing should not be built in Billingshurst but little or no good reason why it should.
Broomfield Drive, Billingshurst