Ombudsman throws out complaint over Horsham development’s infrastructure plan

Parkside, where Horsham District Council is based
Parkside, where Horsham District Council is based

A complaint over Horsham District Council’s West of Horsham masterplan has been thrown out by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).

Broadbridge Heath resident Alex Ross called on the council and the LGO to launch an investigation on why key promises on infrastructure on the two developments either side of the A24 were not met.

A GP surgery will no longer be provided in the Wickhurst Green development, and while West Sussex County Council has signalled that Shelley Primary School will not relocate to the new development it was working with the school on expansion and the Department for Education on the possibility of a new academy.

Meanwhile HDC said it had been informed that the LGO had refused to investigate this particular complaint.

Mr Ross said: “This was a controversial development, with up to 1,000 houses on green field sites.

“The council worked hard to persuade residents that it would be an exemplar development, with no negative impact on the local area.

“The opposite is true. None of the services promised have been delivered and the houses have nothing that makes them stand out as sustainable.

“The failure to deliver the promised school, GP surgery, public transport and community facilities means the area now has thousands of new residents, with no additional services.”

A spokesman for HDC explained that around half the homes at the West of Horsham developments had been built or were under construction, all of which meet national sustainability construction standards, alongside new roads, play areas, open space, and improvements to public footpaths and bridleways.

The remainder would be built together with more open space, allotments, a BMX track, community hall and play pitches on land south of Hills Farm Lane.

Meanwhile a new neighbourhood centre in Broadbridge Heath was expected to be built in 2017, including a mini-supermarket, four small shop units, a nursery and dedicated parish council office.

The spokesman added: “In addition, residents old and new will benefit from the recently agreed a £12.3m investment by Horsham District Council for the replacement of Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre.”

“Provision was also made in the plans for the neighbourhood centre for a GP’s surgery.

“However, the Clinical Commissioning Group has confirmed that it has not got the funding at present to provide a new doctors surgery in this location, but is looking at how it can best meet the primary health care needs for the whole town.”

However responsibility for delivering the new school and fire station rested with the county council.

A WSCC spokesman said: “We would like to reassure residents that options for a new school on the Broadbridge Heath development are still being explored and we are also working with the headteacher at Shelley Primary School in relation to the area’s growing population.

“This includes the potential for increasing the school’s current Published Admission Number and meeting with the Department for Education to discuss the possibility of an academy. We will continue to work with the local residents and authorities to ensure there are sufficient school places available for children in the area.

“A separate decision was made regarding the relocation of the fire station. This is not a decision made lightly and unfortunately relocating to the new Broadbridge Heath development site did not fulfil some of the essential criteria required for a new fire station.

“This includes the need for suitable access for our fire service vehicles and the need to maintain our excellent ‘on call’ operational staff.”

Although Shelley Primary School had a limited number of places there was space in Horsham and neighbouring village schools, and free transport was available for children under eight for schools more than two miles from home, and children over eight more than three miles.

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