THIS week's letters to the editor.
FOLLOWING the recent publication of its 'Locally Generated Needs Study' to forecast likely housing requirements in the district to 2031, Horsham District Council has arrived at a figure of 13,000 new homes.
This figure matches that of the now-abolished South East Plan. The study shows that HDC enlisted two firms of consultants to come up with various models and scenarios which have, rather conveniently, arrived at the same figure as the South East Plan.
Having reviewed the study, I fail to see how these calculations and forecasts relate in any way to the reality of the housing needs of the district and its villages.
Although there will inevitably be a need for new houses within the district, the location of these houses must be appropriate to demand.
I fail to see how the villages surrounding Horsham need or can support large-scale development, or indeed what such development can offer to the local communities.
Small piecemeal developments - and even developments of several hundred units at a time - will be very unlikely to bring with them any improvements to the local infrastructure (roads, schools, utilities etc.). It is rarely in the financial interests of housebuilders to make a meaningful contribution to local infrastructure on small to medium scale developments.
Billingshurst's primary and secondary schools are already at capacity. Adding more houses to the village would mean that the existing catchment areas would need to be changed to accommodate the new residents, at the expense of children living in outlying villages.
The developers already own a significant amount of land on the east of Billingshurst, so it is inevitable that they will want to apply considerable pressure to HDC to release this land, and thereby realise their investment.
One must wonder whether the study is a sign that HDC is bowing to the needs of these developers over those of the local community. There has been a total lack of consultation with the communities about this study, and HDC appears to have taken its results at face value.
HDC must now look at the actual housing and infrastructure needs of the individual village communities that make up the district, and not rely solely on the recommendations of highly-paid consultants or the wishes of developers.
I offer HDC the right of reply to this letter.
Rosier Way Billingshurst
THAKEHAM'S future is in our hands. Many times we have been told by councillors and council officers that the number of objections they get in response to a planning application does make a difference. The agenda now is 'localism' and 'people power'.
Villagers of Ticehurst, East Sussex, have set an example - their council turned down a housing application as 'the project was not appropriate for a rural area and was not supported locally'.
So, I ask everyone who cares about Thakeham to write now to Horsham District Council to object to the proposals for Abingworth Nursery and Chesswood Farm for 146 houses in the small village, the deadline is August 26.
Building houses is for people to live in, not to keep private companies in business. And what if planning permission was given one day and Sussex Mushrooms folded the next?
If these proposals are permitted, it would be the death of Thakeham as a village. But it is not just Thakeham that would be harmed, the whole area would suffer - traffic problems in Storrington would get worse, adding to the existing air quality problems, Ashington and West Chiltington would suffer from more motorists 'rat running'.
Letters should be sent to Horsham District Council, Development Control South, Park North, North Street, Horsham RH12 1R and e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Responses should quote reference DC/10/1314 & DC/10/1316 and need to be received by Thursday August 26.
Thakeham Village Action
PO Box 2114, Thakeham, Storrington RH20 3WF
HERE is the scene at 15.30 Monday August 9 when a proportion of regular users of the Horsham Carfax Post Office can be expected to be away on holiday and so the amount of business should be smaller.
The queue is once again outside the door. Of the nine service positions and two self-service machines provided, positions one and two are screened off, three and four are unattended, five, six, seven and eight are attended and nine is only dealing with National Lottery sales, of which there were none during the 20 minutes I queued to have one large letter weighed and stamped because both self-service machines were out of order.
When asked if anyone was monitoring the availability of these machines, the woman behind the window said they were frequently broken down and they were waiting for a person to come and fix them. They also needed replenishing regularly with stamps etc and if the staff left their positions to fill them up, their positions would be left empty.
So my questions are:
If the self-service machines are frequently broken, why don't they get maintained more frequently and more positions be attended until they are?
Why can't someone from the back office staff keep an eye on the machines and make sure they are quickly replenished without taking someone off the front positions?
Why is one position allocated solely for National Lottery sales? The Post Office is not a betting shop and National Lottery sales is not the raison d'etre of the Post Office (you can imagine going into a betting shop and asking to buy stamps, post a parcel or tax your car, you'd pretty quickly be shown the door!).
Why should lottery ticket buyers get preferential treatment so as to avoid the long queues that we core business customers have to put up with?
There are other lottery ticket outlets within a few minutes' walking distance, so the post office is not the only place in town. Position nine should be multi-functional and lottery ticket buyers should have to take their chances along with the rest of us.
Come on Post Office management, there have been enough complaints of queueing for long periods to make you realise something needs fixing.
Springfield Crescent, Horsham
I WAS really saddened to hear that the Fabric Shop in the Swan Walk, Horsham, has to close to accommodate the Swan Walk Centre's plans to carry out improvements to the shopping centre.
What does this mean exactly? I know that it will mean that there will be nowhere in Horsham to buy wool (unless you want the ordinary double knit yarn which can be purchased in Wilkinson's, but only in winter).
The staff in particular are incredibly knowledgeable about the products they sell, and will always spend time helping with any queries. Nothing is too much trouble for them.
I sincerely hope that the management can find suitable, alternative premises for the Fabric Shop in Horsham – the town certainly needs this type of shop – this is patently obvious by the amount of people who use the store. Let us keep our fingers crossed that they can. There are certainly enough empty premises in Horsham at the moment – is this because the rents are too high?
Christ's Hospital, Horsham
I TOTALLY agree and support the views of Liz Boxall (letters, August 12 - 'Closure dismay').
We now have nothing to support our desire to knit and crochet unless we travel to Burgess Hill, Worthing, Brighton or further afield. Yes, we do have the internet, but does everyone have the internet?
Forty-five years ago we had at least five shops selling wool in Horsham. Now, thanks to the planners, we have none! Another clothes shop will last about five minutes, but by then it will be too late. The Fabric Shop with its lovely staff will have gone.
Maybe the art of knitting and crochet might be regarded as 'an old person's occupation', but with the credit crunch maybe many might start making their own clothes instead of paying inflated prices. Well, they won't be able to purchase their needs in Horsham, that's for sure.
I THINK most people in Horsham will agree with the way the East Street refurbishment is progressing. It is certainly going to be an asset for the town.
My query is do we have to let traffic back through East Street among pedestrians walking the new paved area? I am sure I am not alone in thinking this will spoil the effort put into the project.
Finally could the council (or its contractors) please keep a stock of the paving bricks so that when the services have to dig up the road there will be continuity of the paving for replacement.
I MUST take issue with Mr Bishop who complained last week about the state of West Sussex roads. Apart from a few notable exceptions, such as Hammerpond Road, I think the roads around Horsham are in a pretty good state considering the winter we had.
I travel every day to Surrey and occasionally to Hertfordshire to visit my parents and the roads in both those counties are far worse and there appears to be no effort being made to repair them.
RICHARD M. LOWE
Millais Court, Horsham
IT'S NICE to hear that people are battling to save Horsham Town Hall, but it would be better if they stopped their battling for a few days and let the man in who looks after the town hall clock.
He might be able to get it to tell the right time!
Rough Way, Horsham
I WAS interested to note, in the recent edition of the Horsham Residents' Guide, that, on page 12 under the heading 'Shopping and Eating Out', we are advised that Horsham 'has a wide variety of cafes and restaurants, providing everything from modest coffee and snacks to sumptuous a la cart meals'.
My question is do we have to provide our own horse or does the cart remain stationary?
Lambs Farm Road Horsham
ANIMAL Aid and the collectors would like to thank the Horsham people who so kindly donated a total of 168.47 at the street collection on Saturday July 24. Many thanks on behalf of the animals too.
The amount collected will go towards funding Animal Aid's peaceful campaigning and investigative and educational work which seeks to expose and help relieve the many cruelties suffered by animals.
For further information please call Animal Aid on 01732 364546.
Cootes Avenue, Horsham