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 Current issues

January 2011 

Horsham Town Landscape Assessment


Click for larger imageHorsham urban area has expanded considerably over recent years.  In years to come it is likely that pressure for growth will continue and it seems appropriate to examine the constraints that should be taken into consideration. The pressures will certainly affect the character of the central area – the number of shops and work places that are required for example.

However an important aspect of the town’s character is its relationship to the surrounding countryside and its landscape features whether one is looking in towards the town or looking out from it.

As a first step therefore a simple visual examination has been carried out to determine which open areas and landscape features in the surrounding countryside contribute to the town’s character.  These are illustrated on the attached diagram.  Click on the image above for full size view.

Perhaps the most interesting and important conclusion that becomes obvious very quickly is that if these landscape features are to be retained they will in future constrain the town’s growth.  The present Horsham urban area cannot grow without adversely affecting its character.  The effect will be that either new settlements or the expansion of existing towns and villages within the District Council area will need to take additional growth in the future.

The areas of constraint are set out below and shown on the attached Diagram.

Landscape Areas of Constraint 

1          North of the Horsham Bypass (A264)

A flat area of trees and fields that form the foreground to Hurst Hill, the high land to the north on which sits Rusper village.  To the east the railway and Crawley Road give views of a well treed and rolling landscape.  Perhaps the most important aspect of this land is that it formed the main element of the Strategic Gap between Horsham and Crawley.

Whilst Strategic Gaps are no longer used as a formal planning restraint the gap between Horsham and Crawley remains a valuable element in the landscape,  preventing the joining of the two major settlements.  The District Council has the opportunity to reinstate and extend the strategic gap between Horsham town and Crawley and adopt it as a planning policy.  This would, we believe, receive considerable public support.

2          The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

To the east of the town this forest and field area is a long established and well identified area of high land the boundaries of which establishes and identifies the eastern boundary of the town.  The area includes the western part of St Leonards Forest and Leechpool Wood together with the Hammerponds and fish ponds.  Coolhurst House and its grounds are included.

3          Denne Hill and its foreground landscape

Denne Hill together with Tower Hill form a strong visual boundary of high land to the south of the town. The Valley of the River Arun runs along the north side of those hills and it is the valley itself,  including land on the north side, which forms the boundary of the town.

4          The line of the A24,  together with the open land of the Warnham Wildlife Park and Rookwood Golf Course

The land on the west side of Horsham includes the Horsham Bypass, Warnham Pond and its associated rivers which are tributaries of the River Arun to the south of the town.  To the west of the Bypass is Warnham Court surrounded by the well landscaped Deer Park.

5          Land to the South of the expanded area of Broadbridge Heath

This area is established by the boundaries of the proposed development south of Broadbridge Heath and west of the A24.  It includes the important high land of Wickhurst Hill.

Roy Worskett RIBA MRTPI (Retd)
November 2010

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