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UPDATE NOVEMBER 2014/2

Reproduced below is the text of KSG’s letter of further representation to Mr Geoff Salter BA MRTPI, planning inspector responsible for the Horsham District Planning Framework Examination in public.

Dear Sir,

I very much regret that neither Keep Southwater Green (KSG) nor Southwater Parish Council were able at the Wednesday 12th November’s hearing, to make any significant representations against either the Berkeley’s arguments that some 2750 houses should be built on land west of Southwater, or the prolonged and unchallenged statements and assertions on behalf of North Horsham Parish Council.

I understand the rationale behind the procedural point you made excluding us at the time, but we are very concerned that the effect of the ruling was that the public coverage of the many infrastructure issues was inadequate and in effect biased against the community of Southwater.

With our limited experience of the way such EIPs are conducted, and perhaps rather naively, we had thought that as KSG and SPC had lodged objections to 500 more houses that it would be an automatic assumption that arguments against 5 times that number would be allowed – not least because an additional 2750 houses would almost double the size of our village.

For that reason a number of points I was intending to make on behalf of KSG were held back from the morning session to be presented the afternoon. As this was not allowed I hope that you will accept this short summary encapsulating the points that you might like to take into your consideration when delivering your decision on the HDC plan with particular regard to the omission sites in Southwater.

  • It was intended to expand on the reasons why Lintot Square is at a capacity and that it would have a difficulty in absorbing the numbers from 500 houses let alone 2750. Including the spaces outside the Doctor’s surgery there are approximately 100 parking spaces for the general public and 33 for disabled/doctors/council etc. and although at times it is 100% full it generally just copes at present. This is achieved by the Council turning an effective blind eye to overflow numbers and the staff working at the shops being allowed to park at the Leisure/Sports centre car park which is 3 minutes away. The 2 hour waiting limit in the Square is enforced by visits from a HDC parking attendant.
  • It was stated by Mr Pearson that Lintot Square was built with capacity in mind to accommodate future development. If that was the case – and it was not the general understanding of those there and nor was it recorded in minutes – then the intention has failed because it is already operating at its limit. Any and all extra houses will not only increase the numbers wishing to use the parking but would also intensify the pressure on the Village Surgery which in common with many others is already under strain. The most frequent single complaint KSG hears when canvassing opinion in the village was that getting an appointment at the surgery is far too difficult.
  • KSG garners opinion from the villagers by a number of methods and one of those is obtaining views by means of petitions. The latest one (not yet presented to HDC) states that “we oppose further large scale development in Southwater as well as being opposed specifically to DC/14/0590”. The number of signatories now stands at some 3000. These are genuine signatures; we have gone to some trouble to ensure they are only from Southwater residents. Children under voting age and visitors to the village have been excluded. KSG has not finished collecting signatures for this petition but in view of the hearing it seems an appropriate time at which to mention it.
  • The Parish Council spokesperson did an admiral job when she referred to the traffic problems and the difficulty in accessing the A24. What was not mentioned is the daily congestion with tail backs on that road in the morning which reaches from the roundabout where the A24 goes off left from the Horsham bypass to Dorking, back to the turn off to Tesco’s and often back to Hop Oast. We felt the County Highways responses were far from clear as to how this was all going to be addressed. It can only get worse when the traffic from the existing Wickhurst Green and Berkeley Homes developments west of Horsham feed on to this road. The traffic movement on the road north from the village to the Hop Oast roundabout is already subject to delays, heavily curtailed as it is with pinch points and speed bumps and again extra traffic will only make it worse.
  • Whilst it was generally accepted that those in these new houses would travel north for employment what was not discussed in any depth was the extreme difficulty in doing so by any other means than by road. The parking at the two train stations Horsham and Christ’s Hospital are at capacity. At CH cars are parked on grass verges for a considerable distance from the station and at Horsham its own station car park is tiny and the Council’s 2 hour parking limit in its own car parks causes its own problems for would be commuters. As the access road into Horsham from Southwater is not wide enough for dedicated bus lanes, in the morning progress is slow, park and ride equally so, all of which means that the Government’s wish to see a switch from the car to public transport is not exactly being helped. KSG can only assume that is why HDC has located its larger development north of Horsham to eliminate adding to this existing road traffic problem.
  • It is worth noting that Southwater is 6.6 miles from the Rusper roundabout on the north Horsham Bypass. A commuter from Southwater driving to Crawley, Gatwick or London to work does 13 more miles per day than a commuter from North Horsham. This round trip for say 250 days per year would generate 1500kg of CO2 per commuter per year.

In summary we feel that because we have made an informed and reasonable decision to support our locally and democratically elected Council – as has Francis Maude our MP and a Cabinet Minister publicly on May 8th 2014 –  our voice has been given less weight and this is unequitable. We apologise for taking your time but we ask that you give this your consideration.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Ian Thwaites on behalf of Keep Southwater Green