Expansion planned for Warnham nature reserve - if development of Rookwood Golf Course goes ahead

Plans are being put forward to expand Warnham Local Nature Reserve - if proposals to build up to 700 houses on nearby Rookwood Golf Course go ahead.

Monday, 8th February 2021, 4:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th February 2021, 11:21 am

Horsham District Council says that developing the golf course would bring ‘considerable benefits’ for the nearby nature reserve.

It says they would include a new landscaped gateway entrance to the reserve, with ‘a much improved visitor centre’, a new café and new car park.

And, it says, land to the west of the nature reserve would be released as public open space creating ‘a new country park.’

Proposed new visitor centre at Warnham Local Nature Reserve

But there has been huge public opposition to the council siting houses on the golf course with a protest petition gathering more than 10,500 signatures.

Warnham Lovcal Nature Reserve - sited near the golf course - currently has a 17-acre millpond, extensive trails through meadows and woodland, boardwalks over grassland and several bird hides.

A council spokesman said: “The biodiversity of the site will be substantially increased with scope for re-wilding and enhancing wildlife networks.”

And Horsham Council cabinet member for leisure Jonathan Chowen said: “I am pleased that following the extensive consultation, we are now in a position to consider an exciting plan that can create considerable protection of Warnham Local Nature Reserve and deliver so many improvements for the benefit of visitors there.

Proposed new viewing stations and millpond at Warnham Local Nature Reserve

“This scheme will also further improve habitats for wildlife with green infrastructure very much at the forefront of our thinking, promoting environmental education and wellbeing and aligning with our overarching Wilder Horsham District nature recovery networks.

“If the site is allocated through the Local Plan, then we would be keen to consult further and work closely with residents, partners and stakeholders to develop ideas for what Rookwood could ultimately look like.

“At the heart of any development is the desire to ensure that nature thrives at Rookwood.”

The council says its plans for 700 houses- including 250 affordable homes - on Rookwood Golf Course would mean eco-friendly homes ‘in a stunning garden setting.’

It says the housing would be limited to around 30 per cent of the total land area to the south of Warnham Road.

There would also be a site for a new primary school and provide extra council funding which would ‘enable the council to continue to safeguard key frontline community services for future generations across the whole of the district.’