Hornets considering appeal as Hop Oast dreams are dashed

Horsham chairman Kevin Borrett has said the club will consider appealing the council’s decision that quashed their dreams of a new home at Hop Oast this week.

Friday, 23rd January 2015, 8:00 am
Horsham Football Club's 2014 proposal for a new clubhouse and ground at Hop Oast - artists's impression of the view from the balcony - picture submitted by Horsham Football Club SUS-150121-131807001

Tuesday was set to be a landmark day in the club’s 134-year history with the planning application for a modest new home with two 3G all-weather pitches on an unused golf hole off Worthing Road.

Fans, supporters and club officials packed out the council chamber to maximum capacity and others took to an overflow in the Capitol Theatre to hear the future of their beloved club.

But Horsham District Council, despite a recommendation from officers, voted 13-9 against the application that would have seen the Hornets have a nest to call their own after almost seven years of homelessness.

Club management and supporters said Hop Oast was a sustainable site for a new ground, but those opposed believed it would be ‘urbanisation of the countryside’ that went against their policy and would be an unsafe location for pedestrians and cyclists.

The decision certainly puts a question mark over the future of the club, who also had plans for a home at the Holbrook Club thrown out by councillors after leaving their Queen Street home in 2008.

It also raises a big question over the future of the Holbrook Club as Horsham Football Club planned to give them £200,000 if their second application for 57 homes on that site went through, but it was also refused.

Borrett admitted it was a bitter pill to swallow for the club’s hierarchy, but hinted that they may yet be extra-time to come.

And an appeal could be a strong option for the club as this would be made by a planning inspector made on planning law and take things out of the hands of Horsham District Council.

Borrett said: “Clearly it was a very disappointing evening for us, the club had hoped there would have been a historic decision in favour of building a new community ground at Hop Oast.

“We believe the recommendation we put forward was very strong, it carried a recommendation by the officers and importantly for me none of the statutory consultee were objecting to our proposals.

“The club now needs to reflect on the decision. We remain determined to find the right home for Horsham Football Club and I certainly do not rule out an appeal following the decision.

“Our view was that it was seven years of painstaking work that we have put into this application and we think it is a suitable and sustainable place and merited support from the council.

“That clearly creates considerable uncertainty for Horsham Football Club, it also creates considerable uncertainty for our tenants at Holbrook because of the 25-year lease we were proposing to offer to them was obviously dependant on the approval of both planning applications.”