A Conservative district councillor has urged the public to demand that their representatives reject controversial plans for thousands of new homes on green fields at North Horsham.
The call by Peter Burgess (Holbrook West) came as Horsham District Council prepares to vote on its local plan at an extraordinary meeting on November 19.
Meanwhile, Liberty Property Trust confirmed this week that it is continuing to prepare a planning application for the North Horsham development.
Managing director Andrew Blevins said: “Our team has been working hard to pull the planning application together during the course of this year and we have been in detailed discussions with Horsham District Council, West Sussex County Council, the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and a number of other authorities as key stakeholders. This is taking longer than originally planned but it is, without doubt, the correct thing to do.
“Getting the planning application right will mean that it addresses all of the factors relevant to development at North of Horsham, so that a fully informed decision can be taken. It also means that North of Horsham is able to deliver the best possible benefits for the community and has the necessary infrastructure in place at the right time.”
In his call to residents to ‘fight for your district’, Mr Burgess said of the North Horsham proposals: “November 19th is a watershed for Horsham town and District. It is the day the district council decide on the future plan for Horsham which could include up to 6,000 houses immediately to the north of the A264 bypass.
“In 2009, HDC had recognised the need for at least 550 houses per year just to accommodate our own needs. The plan was to cover this by a new town and possibly one other site.
“In 2011, Liberty, a developer, produced a speculative plan for at least 4,500 house north of the A264. HDC officers had already rejected this as unworkable, but the proposal offered a new acute hospital, a new station and an enhanced business park.
“Very quickly the hospital disappeared, the station looked extremely unlikely and the business park would have to compete with Manor Royal and the new Horley complex. In any event the preferred building option was based on Southwater, with infill at Billingshurst and other sites.
“In 2013, after a change of the Cabinet leader, deputy and planning member, this was changed to North Horsham with no alternative and no real consultation on viable alternatives. This is where we stand now.”
Mr Burgess added: “Apart from the defined isolation of this site, there is a problem with the A264. This is designated as a main route between the South Coast and London/M25. The developer proposes to reduce this to a 40mph bus route hounded by multiple traffic lights and access roundabouts. The result will be stagnated access and massive delays for through traffic.
“The proposed site has no infrastructure, so sewage, water, electricity, gas and telecoms etc will have to be shoehorned in via the A264, causing immense delays for many years as roads are dug up and replaced many times.
“In addition, the developer proposers a new secondary school, which will have to be built by someone else, and will cause a major shift in where our children go to school, besides extra costs in bussing them in and out of local areas.
“We are told that there is extreme urgency, as not to do this will cause a ‘doomed’ scenario, with rabid developers diving in anywhere and everywhere. This is despite the fact that our neighbours are not developing their plans until 2017 or even 2018.”
Mr Burgess added: “If this goes ahead, the district will become gridlocked and Horsham town inaccessible. Every village will become a rat run, local schools will become unobtainable and Horsham will be no longer an attractive place to live.
“Councillors will vote on the 19th and it is likely the plan will be passed with a small majority. Over 3,500 have joined a petition noting their opposition to a plan where the developer will pay no infrastructure costs and rumour has it, little affordable housing.
“If you do not like what is being railroaded through, I urge you to contact your local councillor and urge him or her to vote against.
“Your future life will depend on it. Fight for your District.”