Hole we’re in is growing deeper

Let me assure Denis Wright (CT letters Dec 27 2012) that Save Our Storrington takes neither a ‘narrow’ nor ‘parochial’ view of life.

Indeed, since its formation SOS has spoken up on a number of issues. Our response to the district council’s consultation ‘How much housing does Horsham need?’ was the product of careful research and consideration. We intend to contribute to other public consultations in an equally thoughtful and constructive fashion.

Traffic and pollution, however, have inevitably occupied a good deal of public attention. That is why our petition on this subject – which didn’t even mention Waitrose – attracted over 1,300 signatures, and led to our making a well-received presentation to a county council select committee last March.

But we and many residents are dismayed by the fact that while everyone agrees Storrington’s traffic problem is severe to the point of crisis – and the district council has a statutory duty to reduce air pollution by over 30 per cent – no one seems able to get a grip on its causes. We’re in a hole, but the sound of digging fills the air.

And yes, the main cause is through-traffic – fiendishly difficult to control without tackling problems such as the Arundel bottleneck. But development is another significant contributor to traffic levels. That’s why the district council’s public health and licensing department stated last February that the cumulative impact on the village’s air quality of all proposed developments must be considered “including those whose individual impact may have been calculated as ‘negligible’.”

Yet in its consultation response to the Waitrose application, the county council refused to factor in the likely impact on traffic levels of over 300 dwellings already approved for construction in the local area. That includes 146 to be built in Thakeham. As recently as last September, Cllr Ray Dawe voted against that proposal, warning it would lead to multiple extra vehicles coming into Storrington and impact negatively on air quality. We think he was absolutely right.

But still the “hole” grows deeper. The new Waitrose will be almost three times the size of the existing store. The car park will nearly double its capacity. And your article on 20 December reported that supporters of the scheme believe the new supermarket will “help underpin the economy of the whole downland region”. In traffic terms that can mean only one thing.

The jury is out on how such a huge store will affect the vitality and viability of the local economy. But it is hardly scaremongering to raise concerns that this and other developments will contribute to an increase in traffic levels that we simply can’t afford.

Is it not time to suspend the digging until a convincing, practical solution to this crisis is implemented?



Save our Storrington,

Nightingale Close, Storrington