Much water has gone under the bridge since our last update. Although you’ve not heard from us for quite a while, we have been beavering away behind the scenes with regular meetings to discuss the Berkeley Homes development as it has moved through the planning process. A number of the conditions attached to BH’s detailed planning application needed to be fleshed out, and some still require radical improvement, which we are endeavouring to secure. This has resulted in a busy time for KSG’s committee members.
Firstly, we would like to express appreciation to Councillor Claire Vickers who has not only attended some of our meetings but also followed up and helped resolve some outstanding queries. In addition, we’d like to thank all those Southwater residents who have been in touch, providing us with advice and local knowledge.
One issue that perhaps has potential to be the longest lasting is that of drainage. The fields to the north of Woodfield, which are soon to be built on, currently flood every winter. The consequence is that a stream is created running parallel to the rear gardens of Pipers Close. This emerges onto the Downs Link where it travels eastwards, creating a fast flowing minor river towards the old railway bridge, then on to the Worthing Road opposite The Lintot, flooding the rear gardens of many of the Woodfield properties on the way. The photographs below show this regular event, which last happened on January 3rd this year.
This is despite a land drain having been installed by Horsham District Council three or four years ago, after heavy representations by Woodfield residents to ameliorate these events.
Of course, drainage is a vitally important aspect of all development. It must be effective and efficient, particularly as remedial works after the building has been completed may well be difficult, if not impossible. The unfortunate fact is that several of Southwater’s existing residential areas continue to experience flooding problems. As this is the situation before any more homes are built here, we have obvious concerns that what is being suggested will not be sufficient. We believe every effort should be made by Horsham District Council to see the same does not happen yet again. We understand that Southern Water also expressed concerns itself, late last year.
One aspect of BH’s detailed planning application that does appear to have been resolved is regarding the anthrax risk. HDC has imposed a condition that in-depth samples must be taken from the old fire pits to establish that the site is not contaminated by anthrax spores from the diseased cattle buried in the field. The safety of the site was always a matter of great concern for our founding chairman, the late Dr Ian Thwaites, who did much research into the dangers of anthrax. Were he still with us, we know he would have been relieved that his words of warning have finally been heeded.
The planning meeting at HDC, which resulted in a subcommittee being formed to resolve outstanding conditions, also considered the inadequacies of allocated car parking for those who will occupy the block of flats. Whilst we have heard that a new layout has now been submitted, KSG has made the point to Cllr Vickers that we sincerely hope it’s not a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, so that other areas of the development end up with fewer parking spaces.
Issues have also been raised about Shaw’s Lane, as the requirement to use it as an emergency access through to the new development has resulted in a flurry of questions. Has the lane ever been adopted? If it has, when did this occur? And were the residents of Shaw’s Lane actually notified of its change in status? Many have told us they were not aware of this happening. Answers to what appear to be simple questions have been slow in emerging from WSCC’s Highways Department, but we continue to press them on it.
It is only when one examines a planning application in detail that it can be fully appreciated just how much detailed work is involved. Our appreciation is expressed to all those helping KSG with making representations, not only by pointing out particular concerns but also, as in one example, by walking along public footpaths with Council officials to check that the routes will be properly protected.