LETTER: Society should show its teeth

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From his photograph, Oliver Farley of the Horsham Society looks old enough to remember the iconic ‘pre-fabs’ introduced as temporary housing measure by Clement Attlee’s pioneering Labour government immediately following World War Two (Opinion - April 14th).

As a result of an intense housing shortage caused by the Blitz on London and other major cities, these low-cost temporary housing units fulfilled a vital role. And they stood up well for many years after the end of the war. So there is nothing new about Lewisham Council’s scheme.

Mr Farley’s comments on the various housing styles to be found in Horsham make interesting reading, bearing in mind that the Horsham Society’s stated role is ‘the concern for the past, present and future of the town - seeking to promote good planning and design’.

But his tacit approval of the conversion of the former Sun Alliance building in Albion Way into a number of shoe-box flats appears to contradict the society’s aims.

In my view, Linden House is an example of the very worst domestic housing policy - a monster of the 21st century. Conservation has never been a high priority for Horsham District Council - they being more concerned with maximising income from council tax - flats providing an ideal source of revenue.

The thought of a new generation willing to live in such apartments gazing at a gigantic TV screen or spending their time obsessed with the latest computerised gadget or worshipping their motor car - housed in a car-port - is a depressing reflection of modern British values - worthy of a caustic comment from the late George Orwell.

Given today’s acute housing shortage, our Tory government continues to promote the sale of housing association properties to their occupiers at bargain basement prices - thus reducing the stock of affordable rented accommodation.

Here again, we could learn a lesson from Germany or the Netherlands where local authority housing is designed and built to a high standard and complements surrounding structures - private or otherwise. Living in social housing on the continent is not looked down upon as in our class-ridden society.

Having been a supporter of the Horsham Society for a number of years, I share its laudable aims but I have to say that it’s record relating to conservation is not terribly impressive.

Working with the council is sensible but there are many occasions when the society should show its teeth and refuse to endorse the creation of ill-conceived tenement blocks such as Linden House - which could well become slum dwellings of the future.


Bourns Court, Ayshe Court Drive, Horsham


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