LETTER: Catastrophically damaging plan

Your letters
Your letters

I am writing to register overwhelming objection to the proposed North Horsham Development Plan.

Having studied the ‘Interim Sustainability Appraisal’, and in particular the tables in section 5 (Pages 142 -156), it is evident that there are a number of fundamental and insurmountable issues with the North Horsham proposal that have been ignored ; and there is a significant amount of inconsistency within the tables when comparing the alternative sites .

There are other more favourable sites in the appraisal.

The North Horsham plan itself is ill-conceived, is of an unacceptable scale and has no substance behind it.

There is no new infrastructure to support it, and in fact, the increase in traffic volumes resulting from the development is not even mentioned.

It is an absolute disgrace that this plan has reached consultation. The plan is simply unsustainable and it provides no benefit to the existing Horsham electorate.

If implemented, it would be catastrophically damaging to the whole of Horsham as we know it and wish to maintain it. I call upon all of the remaining councillors that have so far kept quiet, to act in the best interests of the whole Horsham electorate that appointed you, and vote against this plan.

The key points constituting my objection to the North Horsham plan are as detailed below:

1. Infrastructure and traffic congestion

The A264 Northern by-pass would simply not be able to sustain the increased traffic volumes ; there is no provisioning for improvement to the road infrastructure in the plan. Annual traffic surveys already indicate significant increase in traffic volumes year on year; and of course, no account has yet been taken of the impact on increase in traffic volumes as a result of the West and South Horsham developments – at Highwood and Broadbridge Heath.

Additionally, there has already been hard evidence of gridlock situations with existing traffic volumes, during the recent one lane restrictions in the proximity of the Great Daux roundabout due to the road works and the junction of Langhurstwood Road.

This plan would impact on all of the road systems around Horsham making daily journey travelling times intolerable – the Robin Hood, Great Daux, Rusper Road and Moorhead roundabouts would become completely congested even out of peak times. Despite the council’s aspiration for a green community with everyone working locally, the fact remains that Horsham is a commuter town and a large proportion of the population use their cars to travel out of the area to their place of work, take their children to school, or to commute from Horsham and Littlehaven stations.

2. Erosion of greenbelt countryside and reduction in the Strategic Gap

There would be a significant environmental impact, with destruction of key wildlife species and the rural sightlines that this northern part of the Horsham district is renowned fo r. The Interim Sustainability Appraisal draws attention to possible damage to an area of ancient woodland and some areas of historical importance fo r our Arts and Heritage; but it fails to mention the true impact that this plan would have on the environment and surrounding landscape, describing it as ‘neutral to low negative’ depending on the extent of any development!!

The Appraisal also fails to mention the significant erosion of the Strategic Gap as a result of the North Horsham development, although it does mention the impact in the alternative locations – highlighting the inconsistencies in the comparative analysis.

3. Volume of Housing

The South/West Horsham and Kilnwood Vale developments are already ongoing, with other planned or approved developments which are radically changing the landscape of our town, bringing more than 7,000 new houses into the area.

Therefore, any future housing requirements to meet the central government mandate MUST now be fairly distributed throughout the region, in sensible volumes – so that the local infrastructure and amenities can absorb the population increase in a more sympathetic way , rather than yet another urbanisation of the scale of the North Horsham plan. This must include Southwater and Billingshurst, which cannot be exempt from further development.

Several of the alternative options analysed in the Interim Sustainability Report, in combination, would provide a much more comprehensive and acceptable approach to meeting the projected housing requirements ; and importantly, such developments could be conducted in a phased manner, to meet actual demand, rather than unproven forecasts.

4. Waste Water & Sewage

The Interim Sustainability appraisal indicates that there is a strong risk that additional waste water licences fo r this site would be denied. It also states that this scale of development would cause an alteration to run off and drainage, increasing the risk of flooding to other areas of Horsham. These aspects should have undergone deeper investigation prior to consultation.

These are fundamental issues that cannot be ignored, and call for the rejection of the plan.

5. Remote Access, underpasses, public transport

The suggestion of linking this highly remote new urban sprawl through a series of underpasses underneath the A264 is barbaric and absurd. The A264 was built to act as boundary to any further development north of the bypass, and it should stay that way. The idea of trying to ‘bolt’ on this new urbanisation to extend the boundaries of the town in this way is completely unacceptable. The construction alone would require major civil engineering works over many months or years, creating yet more disruption to the overcrowded bypass and adjacent link roads.

I could go on – The Business Park is unnecessary, the Parkway Railway Station won’t be built and there is no provisioning for schools or nurseries, other than a primary school, no local amenities other than a retail food store; and there are no leisure facilities or open spaces. So why exactly is North Horsham the ‘Preferred Option’ and by whom?

It is clear from the Interim Sustainability Report that there are several more viable alternative sites – when the ‘smoke and mirrors’ of the Business Park, the Parkway Railway station and the land for the A&E hospital are removed, it simply comes down to the best location(s) for housing.

Distributing the projected housing volumes across multiple locations, assuming these volumes are actually required, is the only viable solution to integrating these developments into existing and new infrastructures, community and leisure facilities, schools and transport links.

The two alternative sites in particular which have many benefits over the North Horsham plan are:

1. West of Bewbush (extension to Kilnwood Vale)

Kilnwood Vale is a new neighbourhood conceived by Horsham District Council in partnership with Crawley Borough Council after a lengthy search and consultation process, including public opinion.

It provides 2,500 dwellings with up to 40 per cent affordable housing, a neighbourhood centre – retail, healthcare services, community centre and library; a network of formal and informal open spaces with provision for cycle ways and footpaths; a high quality bus service linking the neighbourhood to the two centres, education facilities with provisioning for a new primary school; and land allocated for a new Railway Station.

An extension to the Kilnwood Vale development is therefore the most obvious and simplest sol ution to provide an additional 750 homes and it stands up well in the Interim Sustainability Appraisal:

Road infrastructure improvements have already been made and good transport links – bus and rail are provisioned for in the main Kilnwood Vale plan – these cannot be realistically delivered with the North Horsham Plan.

Education, leisure, recreation and community services are already within the main plan and would easily deliver the required services for the ‘extended’ community - a much better solution than the North Horsham plan which has no provisioning for these facilities.

The loss of countryside would be significantly less than the proposed destruction of countryside in the North Horsham proposal.

The impact on the landscape with the merging of developments would be far less than the significant erosion of the strategic gap resulting from the North Horsham plan.

There is no specific issue with waste water and no risk of flooding. Waste water treatment needs investigation but less serious than North Horsham where the required licences may not even be granted.

A railway station is already part of the main Kilnwood Vale development

2. West of Ifield

This was identified in the Interim Sustainability Appraisal as the preferred location for housing. It met the district’s housing needs and additionally could meet the target 40 per cent affordable housing. The land is unusable marsh and scrubland – not greenfield, agricultural and meadowland as is North Horsham.

Further, the housing would be located close to the key employment destinations of Crawley and Gatwick.

A Business Park could be located within this site and offers a far superior location to attract businesses, being at the very heart of the expanding airport and associated infrastructure.

Horsham District Council should seize this as a major opportunity for economic growth.

There is an existing railway station at Ifield, in close proximity to the proposed development site ; and with the additional provision of a new railway station at the Kilnwood Vale site which is only one mile away.

Fastway bus routes, cycle paths and pedestrian routes can be easily provided within this plan (unlike the multiple underpass construction required with the North Horsham plan).

A primary school would be included in the plan and there is likely to be adequate provisioning of secondary schools in Crawley.

The encroachment of the strategic gap is more acceptable.

This development would contribute extremely positively to the Gatwick Diamond economy, both directly and indirectly.

The Golf Club issue is a red herring as the club does not own the land and the lease expires in a few years.

Additionally, even the Faygate option has several benefits over the North Horsham plan:

The Faygate area is already undergoing development with the Durrants Village retirement village.

The proposed area for additional housing would act as support to the planned primary and secondary school requirements for Kilnwood Vale.

There is an existing train station which could be improved with a Park and Ride and platform improvements at a fraction of the cost of a new station as included in the North Horsham plan. This could support not only the local needs but also any overspill from Horsham and Littlehaven as the South/West of Horsham developments put increasing pressure on these two stations.

Faygate is importantly located between the two important employment destinations of Horsham and Crawley and the Gatwick Diamond.

Therefore, there are many unanswered questions as to why the North Horsham plan has been selected as the ‘preferred option’ and put to consultation.

I believe that we the electorate have a right to have these questions answered publicly. The current North Horsham single site consultation needs to be halted and instead, a proper independent consultation conducted to include a number of the alternative sites. Only then can we ensure that the right outcome is delivered from the consultation.

Mrs G. D. Constable

The Castle, Horsham