Questions raised by Rookwood plans

Much has been written, both for and against, since the public consultation of the proposed HDC Local Plan with the inclusion of Rookwood as a strategic development site for homes.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 11:40 am

The people writing for the development of Rookwood seem to be the cabinet, leaders of the council, and some councillors and council officers.

The people writing against the development of Rookwood seem to be the residents of Horsham and district.

Those who are for the development write that the government has set targets for homes that must be met and Horsham district owns Rookwood. This green space will allow for c.750 homes towards this target and gain about £20million for other projects. The latest proposal is only an outline, not a commitment. In addition, they forecast that HDC is not exempt from enormous financial pressure that councils are facing throughout the country.

Rookwood Golf Centre, Robin Hood Ln, Horsham, Warnham. Pic Steve Robards SR20012702 SUS-200127-170211001
Rookwood Golf Centre, Robin Hood Ln, Horsham, Warnham. Pic Steve Robards SR20012702 SUS-200127-170211001

Those who are against the development write that the people of Horsham and district have limited green space in the north of the district and voted for their councillors, who took up the mandate that they would jointly act for the benefit of the residents. In doing so it was expected and incumbent on these elected councillors to keep to the aims and policies as put forward to the people.

One policy is the HDC Green Space Strategy 2013-2023 which, in its 69 pages, sets out ‘working together to provide vibrant green spaces for all’.

This is a noble aim which has been endorsed in the Economics of Biodiversity Report by the HM Treasury of February 2021 and endorsed by the Prime Minister, saying that protecting nature needs more than good intentions, it requires concerted, co-ordinated action. Empowered citizenship can bring about change to the loss of biodiversity.

The report also states that growing urbanisation and reduced access to green space and detachment with Nature results in a reduction of our physical and emotional state.

This situation raises questions such as:

Why not develop the alternative strategic sites for homes identified in the proposed local plan which do not destroy an amenity in Horsham that cannot be replaced?

Why is the council considering developing Rookwood at all when the HDC Green Space Strategy 2013-2023 sets out that HDC will protect green space in encouraging people to adopt healthier and more active lives?

Why, if public finances are in a poor state, are the figures not published for public scrutiny together with all the HDC assets owned that could be sold other than green space?

Why is it that thousands of people signed a petition to save Rookwood from development, keeping it as an amenity green space, that the council cabinet still persist with Rookwood’s inclusion in the local plan for development?

Why does the elected council leadership choose not to support the residents’ heartfelt desire to maintain the Rookwood green space in the town, disregarding the people’s health and wellbeing now and for the generations to come?

The interpretation of these words belongs to you, the reader, as does any representations it may engender.