The leader of West Sussex County Council has ‘put a dampener’ on the idea of including a pedestrian bridge in plans for the Horsham Enterprise Park.
A masterplan for the former Novartis site, in Wimblehurst Road, was unveiled in September and is due to be put before Horsham District Council around Christmas or early in the new year.
At a County Hall meeting last week, Morwen Millson (Lib Dem, Horsham Riverside) raised concerns about pedestrian access to the part-housing, part-business site, and asked if a bridge leading to the railway station could be included.
Mrs Millson said: “I know it’s very important to local residents that that is considered really thoroughly before the masterplan is submitted to Horsham district, because there are great fears of traffic congestion in the area.
“If there are lots of people coming into the site to work and lots of people leaving the site to go to work. there is a significant problem in the area already due to school traffic and I think if there is anything that can be done to get a bridge between the site and the railway station it would be massively helpful to the area.”
Leader Louise Goldsmith felt the idea would be time-consuming and expensive and told Mrs Millson that approaching Network Rail about the possibility could mean ‘saying goodbye to eight years’ as well as costing millions.
While acknowledging that minimising traffic and having proper pedestrian access to the site was ‘very important’, she said: “We’ve got to be realistic.
“You’re going to be talking about £4-5m and we could invest that in a better way to get sustainable footpaths in another way.”
When asked by Nigel Jupp (Con, Southwater & Nuthurst) when the ‘comprehensive and quite invigorating’ scheme would come to fruition, Mrs Goldsmith said: “It’s really how quickly Horsham District Council deal with it, and that’s out of my control, but I hope fairly quickly, which means a decision could be taken as early as spring.”
The county council bought the site for £16m in 2016 after the shock decision by pharmaceutical giant Novartis to leave the town.
Plans for the development will be on display at the Holbrook Club, in North Heath Lane, Horsham on Tuesday October 30 from midday until 8pm.
Anyone unable to attend can view them online at www.westsussex.gov.uk/horshamenterprisepark from October 31 where they can also leave feedback.
The deadline for comments will be November 16.
Mrs Goldsmith added: “The support for the Horsham Enterprise Park has been really heartening at the last two consultations I’ve been to – great engagement, great comments.
“I think there’s an appetite to get something done on that particularly significant site.”