I read that Cllr Jim Rae - as secretary to the Tory Group - documented Cllr Dawe’s plan to concrete over the remaining green fields in North Horsham that separate us from Crawley. Cllr Rae waxes lyrical in his minutes as to why the industrial park would be a good idea.
Cllrs Dawe, Croft, Vickers, Rae and O’Connell are in the minority in thinking a 500,000 sq ft business park is a good idea because you can see for yourself that Horsham has too much empty office space.
Cllr Rae claimed it would bring in business rates to fill the gap of declining Government grants. But the Government is having second thoughts.
But rather than take my word for it Cllr Rae should read HDC’s own evidence from consultants that the tax payer has paid for. The two reports that HDC has commissioned recently show that there is no need for this sprawling industrial and warehouse park. Leading world economist Harry Shutt is quite correct - this will be a ‘white elephant’.
The report by Adam Godfrey states on page three: ‘This lack of speculative development is compounded by current rental levels, which have not been high enough to justify development. Whilst we have to accept the impact on business confidence and demand of the recession of 2007/8, even pre 2007 this was still the case.’
And the report prepared by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners (NLP) states (para 4.44 of the main report): ‘The gradual build-up of older, poorer quality vacant office stock has led to some oversupply of office space as a whole in Horsham in recent years, in turn resulting in falling property values (which currently stand at around £12-£13 per sq ft for refurbished stock) and viability barriers to new and redevelopment in the town. Consequently, very little Grade A office space is available in Horsham, and is unlikely to come forward until rental/sales values improve.’
So the evidence against this industrial park is as plain as the nose on your face – but the Cllrs Rae, Dawe, Vickers, Croft and O’Connell push ahead determined to get it through council on April 30th – ignoring all the negative evidence before them and those explicit wishes of the residents they say that they represent.
Highdown Way, Horsham