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May 2010 

Horsham District Council refuses to protect town greens

The Horsham Society’s campaign to protect our green spaces by registering them as town greens was dealt a severe blow in March 2010 when Horsham Council formally refused our request to register five of the greens it owns.

In July 2009, knowing that we would be asking the Council to adopt a new approach,  we carefully chose five greens which on any objective test were not suitable for development and wrote to the Council asking for their registration.

The five greens were:

New Street, green behind the Brighton Road Baptist Church (TQ177303)

This is a small but ancient green very close to the town centre. 

Pennybrook Green, Guildford Road (TQ163309)

A small but visually important green on a major route into the town.  There are already two seats which provide an opportunity for pedestrians to rest when walking to and from the town centre.

Crawley Road, Roffey, either side of Church Road (TQ198324)

This green area acts as a buffer between the Crawley Road, another major route into the town, and the new housing off Church Lane.  The southern section, being wider, is particularly attractive and potentially more at risk of future development.

Redkiln Way /  Oak Tree Way (TQ187316)

This green abuts Redkiln Way,  on both sides of Oak Tree Way.  It makes a considerable contribution to softening the urban street scene and provides a buffer between the industrial area and the adjacent housing.

Hills Farm (Needles) Recreation Ground, Hills Farm Lane/ Blackbridge Lane (TQ162302)

This open space is a key feature of the Needles estate and of significant landscape importance.

Nobody can accuse the Council of acting in haste.   In February 2010 the Council’s Asset Management Advisory Group received an officer’s report which accepted that the five greens were valuable community assets and in one case – Crawley Road, Roffey – was potentially at risk of future development.  New Street was a good example of the urban green spaces the Council seeks to protect.  Hill’s Farm recreation ground was said to warrant protection as a town green.  Redkiln Way made a considerable contribution to softening the urban street scene.  Pennybrook Green in Guildford Road was a visually important green on a major route into the town.  Nevertheless the report recommended that the greens should not be registered

The main reason for refusing our request was the assertion that town greens are already protected under planning policies and that registration would offer no additional protection.  This argument is fundamentally flawed.  Registration would provide the strongest possible protection against development precisely because it is covered by separate legislation and planning authorities cannot override it.

In contrast, Horsham Council’s planning policies offer very little protection and virtually none against the biggest culprit of all, the Council itself.  It was the Council that tried to appropriate the green in Ramsey Close for house building.

There, perhaps, is the real answer to why the Council does not want to protect these valuable assets.  The report said  “ it [would] tie the hands of future administrations that may want to use the land for other purposes”.

So there you have it.  The Council will not protect our greens because it wants to keep open the option of developing them.

John Steele

Protecting Horsham's Town Greens»