I moved to Horsham with my late wife in 2012. This was well into my retirement but enabled us to be closer to a daughter who lives in this very pleasant town. We were fortunate to find a house on the site of the former bus maintenance garage, which is seven minutes’ walk from the town centre and two minutes from delightful countryside.
I have been slow to pick-up on the debates resulting from the Government’s requirements to build more homes in the District, but fully understand the alarm felt by many residents and councillors at the decision to concentrate 2,500 homes on land in the North of Horsham.
There have been many convincing arguments as to why development should not take place in this area but only a few deplorable excuses by our existing council as to why it must proceed.
Living in this favoured location I am interested to know whether consideration was ever given to an equivalent development to the south of the town and if so, what were the insurmountable problems which prevented it.
The existing ‘centre’ of Horsham is squeezed into the south eastern corner with the bulk of development in an unbalanced conurbation extending to the dual carriageways of the A24 and A264.
Developing beyond these boundaries on green field sites should be relatively simple and profitable. This is with the exception of having to provide effective links over these barriers to the random network of narrow suburban roads leading eventually to the eccentrically positioned Horsham town ‘centre’. Travelling to Crawley would be quicker.
Developing south of Horsham would be more expensive and extend over a greater area but should result, overall, in a better planned town with easier access to the centre and to the main railway station.
The railway should be less of a barrier than the A24 and A264 and with improved flood control the River Arun could become a much greater asset.
I am unsure of the legal or protected status of the Chesworth Farm area, or of the historical importance of some buildings but enforcing legislation to include these acres of landscape and ecological value within a development area, would be preferable to having the satellite suburb of ‘North of Horsham’.
I am aware that there are protected species of wildlife in the area and that parts are occasionally home to rare breeds of farm animals.
The human population is however, sparse and there are relatively few casual walkers. Any development would require expert planning to ensure that existing features would be carefully integrated for the benefit of people living or working in ‘South of Horsham’.
Another park reflecting Horsham Park in the centre would be desirable, extending from Denne Park and making the most of the riverside.
I can imagine the horror of many Horsham residents to the suggestions of developing such a large and valued green area around the edge of the town.
Although, the town centre itself has been well planned, its eccentric position within the conurbation is unsatisfactory and the addition of ‘North of Horsham’ will only accentuate the problem.
From reports in the County Times it seems that there could still be opportunities for the council to amend the Local Plan submitted to the Government Inspector last year. Although this would present many short term problems it would be preferable to going ahead with the fundamentally bad planning solution by creating the proposed area ‘North of Horsham’.
It is obvious that the present cabinet of the council will not change their decision but if the local electorate have strong enough views there may yet be an opportunity to stop the development of ‘North of Horsham’.
Chesworth Lane, Horsham