Part of the downside of many more houses being built in huge estates around our towns in large areas of productive farmland, is the enormous amount of infrastructure required.
These include otherwise unnecessary large new roads schemes including ‘eyesore’ grade separated junctions and intersections, witness the A24 at Broadbridge Heath, more out of town shopping areas and big drainage projects putting pressure on inadequate sewerage facilities.
In addition, a great deal of public utility expansion is required in water, gas, telephone, electricity and cable. How many major road excavations would these entail? All require huge resources of materials.
The housing en masse and the infrastructure would combine to make concentrated areas of ground impervious, commonly linked with ‘concreting over the countryside’ and less rain entering the ground but instead run off into the rivers and streams exacerbating flooding risk. Then there is the aesthetic downside. Less expanses of ‘green and beautiful land’.
Accepting that many more new houses are necessary in West Sussex, I suggest to those in control of or who are able to influence the creation of new housing, accept a sea change of attitude and instead consider an approach to build the numbers by small scale residential house building schemes in many of the county’s villages.
Such developments have rarely occurred in recent years because of virtual blanket restrictions in rural and semi-rural locations and the closely guarded boundaries of ‘settlements’.
A half dozen new houses among some small communities or say 30 or so on the edge of many villages throughout the county would appear far less amiss than 2,500 as proposed on the Rusper side of Horsham and a whole new town adjacent to Henfield – et al.
A rider would be to not allow the further expansion of villages which have had a great deal of new housing in recent years such as Storrington with its pollution and traffic problems and Billingshurst which could surely do with a break. There are almost certainly others where similar criteria would apply.
For many generations villages and hamlets have grown without great stress and on the contrary their economic heath has improved. The architecture has usually been complementary to the existing styles and through the planning process vernacular materials and style could be ensured.
Almost needless to say, but a proportion of social housing should be provided. If such expansion of these settlements was allowed/encouraged to grow it is likely that struggling village shops would thrive, bus services would be safe or even expand and the continuation of the local school likely.
Large expanses of green fields would be retained rather than destroyed, there would not be the kind of suburban coalescence as threatened between North Horsham and Crawley and the houses in small developments as outlined, would be close to the green lung of the countryside. Many young and old in the rural areas and villages would be able to continue to live in or near where they were brought up or had lived for many years.
Yes, there would be longer car journeys for some but public transport would improve resulting in the probability that many would not need to struggle to run one or two cars.
I also envisage that some occupants of current urban houses would welcome the opportunity of a greater choice of housing in the villages and therefore freeing up houses in the town for those who would prefer urban living.
New Town Road, Storrington