LETTER: Character and charm in danger

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I have been following the recent proposals and discussions for the proposed development of the North Horsham site with great concern.

As I currently see it, these are the main points against the development, as follows:

1) The existing infrastructure will not be developed to support such a large scale development. As things currently stand the infrastructure is unlikely to be able to cope with the new large scale developments around Broadbridge Heath and Bewbush (Kilnwood Vale etc).

2) The proposed provision of yet another industrial estate is completely unnecessary, and really will not boost the local economy. It will only add more empty units and offices to the hundreds that already stand empty around the district.

3) The ‘green belt’ between Horsham and Crawley will be lost forever, the countryside irreperably damaged.

4) The majority of Horsham residents do not support such a radical and ill-concieved development.

5) Who will be able to afford to live in the majority of properties proposed in yet another over-priced and environmentally -damaging development?

When I moved to Horsham in 1978 (before the northern bypass even existed) it was a relatively small market town, with lots of character and green countryside surrounding it, and its local villages.

I lived in the northern end of Pondtail Road and spent much time cycling in the countryside that is now being touted as the only option available for development.

Over the years, with many of the other developments that have been undertaken, Horsham has developed into a much larger town.

It has however, managed to retain much of its charm and character, inspite of the efforts of the likes of RSA to destroy the town centre (where are they now?).

The latest round of developments (and I’m including the monstrous development currently being undertaken around BBH) will see Horsham relegated to the ranks of just another urban sprawl, its roads constantly choked with traffic, with the green mantle that has always surrounded it lost forever.

Can our councillors not see what a disaster this will be? Are they even listening to us - or is it just the developers who have their ear?

Before any consideration is given to destroying the countryside, surely we should be looking at existing areas within the town that could be developed first - such as large parts of Foundry Lane?

Horsham has lost many of its large businesses over the years and it is highly unlikley that many, if any, of the vacant units and offices that stand in Foundry Lane (and many other parts of Horsham for that matter) will be occupied anytime soon, if ever.

To talk of boosting the local economy is also ludicrous - Gatwick and Crawley are in a far better position to boost the economy, if that’s what we’re really trying to achieve here.

Horsham really is not a contender for large scale new businesses to move to - the ones we had have long since moved out or downsized to move their operations to cheaper locations up north.

And how will building a few thousand over-priced houses, and an empty industrial estate actually boost the economy anyway?

The only thing that will be truly boosted is the profits of the developing companies - and they won’t have to live here, in the aftermath of what they’ve created (and destroyed).

Horsham’s charm and character is already in danger of being lost as it is, what with the large scale development around BBH. If the proposed 2,500 houses for North Horsham get the green light the greater danger will come in the future.

All these developements (including Kilnwood Vale) are the thin end of the wedge - the 2,500 is already mooted to turn into 4,500 and, once they’re built, the outlying border areas of those developments will then be targeted for yet further development down the line.

That may be years away, but it will happen. Once the development around BBH is completed how long will it be before developers push to extend it further south so that it eventually engulfs Southwater? Or the fields around Slinfold are developed?

One day, sadly probably not that far into the future, there will be no way to tell where one town or village ends and the next begins - Bewbush becomes Faygate, becomes Horsham, becomes BBH, becomes Southwater.

For many years I promised myself that I would ‘run to the hills’ if the green gap between Horsham and Crawley ever got built on.

Unfortunately, with the widescale and rampant development that our council (and governemnt) is allowing to be undertaken in the name of the economy, even the hills are being choked by a suffocating cloak of concrete, bricks and mortar...


Clarence Road, Horsham