Approved Horsham fire station could be completed by end of 2022

A brand new fire station for Horsham approved this week could be completed as early as 2022.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 9:11 am

The £21million facility for West Sussex Fire and Rescue service, based off the A24 at Highwood Mill, would also include a training centre.

It has been West Sussex County Council’s aspiration for well over a decade to create a new fire station for Horsham.

The new facility will be the first of its kind in West Sussex. It will offer industry-leading facilities for fire and rescue service staff, as well as a new 24-hour operational fire station for Horsham.

An application was approved by the county council’s planning and rights of way committee yesterday (Tuesday February 2).

A24 safety concerns

Trudie Mitchell, chair of Horsham Denne Neighbourhood Council, raised their two main concerns, the gold cladding on the live training tower and problems with the Highwood roundabout.

They considered the colour of the tower to be ‘too garish’ and suggested something more in keeping with its surroundings.

Meanwhile there were two main problems with the roundabout: the ‘confusing lane markings on the slip roads approaching the roundabout causing motorists to switch lanes unexpectedly and the difficulties in using the footpath to Broadbridge Heath to the west as the crossings had ‘extremely poor’ sight lines.

Horsham Riverside’s county councillor Morwen Millson said she had received many emails from Highwood residents about the difficulties of exiting the estate.

A five minute wait for a gap was not unusual, while pedestrians and cyclists had found the experience of crossing the junction ‘nigh on impossible’.

She added: “Most of the traffic going up the A24 slip roads is going too fast and mainly above the speed limit of 40mph.”

She asked if problems with the junction could be addressed during the fire station’s construction.

But county council officers said pre-existing road safety issues were separate matters not material to the application and needed to be addressed through other routes.

On the colour of the training tower, the meeting heard this was due to the gold uniforms worn by officers when using the training facility, but they could put in a condition leaving scope to change or amend it to make it less garish.

On road safety, Pieter Montyn (Con, The Witerings) said: “The basic premise of: ‘We only deal with what we are causing and what’s already there we do not have to deal with’ is very questionable indeed.”

Officers said it would be up to West Sussex County Council if there were road safety issues to ‘resolve them at the appropriate time’ outside the planning process.

Conditions and training facilities

A number of planning conditions and an informative were agreed on the build which included:

• That there is further detail and agreement about the colour of the cladding on the outside of the live fire training building

• The inclusion of a travel plan for the development

• Amendments to the construction plan for the development, including limitations on external lighting, and waste management during the construction and subsequent operation of the site.

• Extending the landscaping maintenance plan from five years to 10 years.

The training centre has an emphasis on real-life scenario training. The centre will include:

• Combined training tower and breathing apparatus facility

• Realistic live fire training facility construction to zero emissions standards

• Residential recruit training

• Multi-agency incident command training facility

• Realistic road traffic collision training area

• Training rooms used for digital simulations.

The new site has an emphasis on renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and air source heat pumps to provide heating, as well as electric vehicle charging points, in-line with the county council’s drive to become carbon neutral by 2030.

‘Fantastic commitment’

Duncan Crow, Cabinet Member for Fire & Rescue and Communities, said: “I am delighted that this project has been approved today. The new development represents a significant investment in our fire and rescue service that will allow our firefighters the very best in training facilities. This benefits not only our firefighters, but also the safety of West Sussex residents.”

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, West Sussex’s chief fire officer, added: “This is a fantastic commitment from the county council to the training and development of all of our staff, and one which is going to have an incredible impact upon our service. I cannot wait for work to begin to turn these plans into a fully functional fire station and training centre.”

Work is expected to start in May and will take around 18 months to complete.