4,500-home extension ‘good news’ for ‘sophisticated’ Horsham town

A indicative plan of the North Horsham development.
A indicative plan of the North Horsham development.

An application for 4,500 houses in North Horsham will not be submitted until after the council’s delayed spatial strategy is determined - according to the company behind the scheme.

The 800-acre plans, between the A264 and woodland north of Horsham, include a new commercial quarter containing high-quality three story office buildings, a new parkway railway station, two primary schools and one secondary school, a supermarket, three local centres, a new country park, and provision for an A+E hospital.

Proposals would be mixed-use development meaning infrastructure and landscaping, around 40 per cent of the land, would be put in before any homes were built - by other developers.

Andrew Blevins, managing director of Liberty Property Trust UK, said: “This is an extension of a sophisticated and existing town.”

“This is going to be good news for Horsham,” he added.

“40 per cent of the area will still be where you can roll out a blanket and have a picnic.”

It was presented to Horsham District Council’s Strategic Planning Advisory Group in the run up to publishing a draft spatial strategy for consultation later this year.

Mr Blevins was keen to underline that the proposed scheme did not come out of the blue, and that dialogue was natural between local authorities and developers.

Liberty, the UK arm of an American real estate investment trust based in Philadelphia and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was approached by Crickmay Chartered Surveyors after HDC’s core strategy review consultation document in September 2009 listed Chennells Brook and Holbrook Park, both north of the A264, as strategic development sites.

They have a base in London, and one in Kings Hill, Kent.

As the master plan developer, or sponsor, if the strategy made it into the local development framework Liberty would submit a planning application late in 2013 or early in 2014 for the site, and take around 15 years to complete.

When recently asked by SPAG members what his reaction to less than 4,500 homes would be, he said: “I would go home and tell the kids how we failed in the opportunity of a lifetime.”

On affordable homes, Liberty may build those themselves. He said: “We do that to monitor the quality. Why should affordable housing not have the same attention to detail? That’s what developers do, cut the corners.”

Kings Hill in Kent was one of Liberty’s previous mixed-use schemes, and while it is currently their flagship site, the company hopes that North Horsham will eclipse it.