Response to Horsham District Council's press release on Rookwood golf course

08 October 2020 | Posted in Planning , Laura Brook
Response to Horsham District Council's press release on Rookwood golf course
Great Spotted Woodpecker © Peter Brooks

By Laura Brook

Conservation Officer

Sussex Wildlife Trust's attention has been drawn to a recent press release issued by Horsham District Council regarding amendments to the proposed development of Rookwood golf course.

Sussex Wildlife Trust is encouraged to see that Horsham District Council appear aware of the biodiversity concerns of Local Action Groups and conservation bodies such as Sussex Wildlife Trust. The ability of the District to absorb development without compromising the natural environment will be paramount in achieving a sustainable future for people and wildlife.

Sussex Wildlife Trust notes that the council has made a number of statements within the press release that suggest they will reduce the number of houses delivered on site. Driving this change appears to be a commitment from Horsham District Council to ensure biodiversity and that access to high quality green spaces is at the heart of any development that would take place on this site.

Sussex Wildlife Trust recognise that Horsham District Council is making it clear that they wish to work with the Trust and the Friends of Warnham Nature Reserve to help move forward their commitments to biodiversity on this site. Sussex Wildlife Trust needs to understand the Council's aspirations in more detail as well as how far this thinking has progressed. 

Sussex Wildlife Trust is keen that any proposals for this site clearly demonstrate that they been driven by biodiversity, to ensure that connectivity and function of habitats is not compromised. 

Sussex Wildlife Trust also would support and encourage Horsham District Council to ensure their thinking about this site is in the wider context of the District's Nature Recovery Network. 

Taking this approach will help to ensure that gains to biodiversity on this site work to provide benefits for biodiversity in the long term.

Comments

  • Anne Davies:

    11 Oct 2020 05:23:00

    This is written in such a positive style it would be easy for readers to think that in light of the article there’s no longer any cause for concern. This compromise does not go far enough. HDC clearly are instructed by Government to build more houses (the subject of a different debate regarding the flawed algorithm) however they do not need to build on Rookwood.

  • Danielle Kail:

    11 Oct 2020 10:05:00

    I am worried this is just words to keep people quiet enough to allow the work to happen. This is a tactic i have now seen many times over. For example with the HS2 site; giving one of their own workers the role of an ecologist to assess the site. The trees 0lanted to re0lace ancient woodland left without water and instead of saving them they said it was cheaper to just plant more saplings again. None of this is adequate enough to replace what has and will be lost. I worry the same situation will happen here,and once it is all agreed there is no turning back and corners/red tape are cut and biodiversity is lost. We can’t afford to lose biodiversity so carelessly just to meet a deadline/demands or for profit anymore. An even if it’s soley for the wellbeing of the people..then nature and biodiversity must be highly regarded and preserved for tge wellbeing of all to thrive.

  • Mark Francis:

    11 Oct 2020 16:36:00

    The key phrases in the above appear to be;
    1. Sussex Wildlife Trust needs to understand the Council’s aspirations in more detail as well as how far this thinking has progressed.
    2. Sussex Wildlife Trust is keen that any proposals for this site clearly demonstrate that they been driven by biodiversity, to ensure that connectivity and function of habitats is not compromised.
    I hope the Trust can follow through on that to ensure that the benefits of this site (and adjacent sites) are not lost forever.
    Once biodiversity is lost, it is very difficult to replace.

  • Mark Francis:

    11 Oct 2020 16:40:00

    The key phrases in the above appear to be;
    1. Sussex Wildlife Trust needs to understand the Council’s aspirations in more detail as well as how far this thinking has progressed.
    2. Sussex Wildlife Trust is keen that any proposals for this site clearly demonstrate that they been driven by biodiversity, to ensure that connectivity and function of habitats is not compromised.
    I hope the Trust can follow through on that to ensure that the benefits of this site (and adjacent sites) are not lost forever.
    Once biodiversity is lost, it is very difficult to replace.

  • Greg MorleySmith:

    11 Oct 2020 17:24:00

    This type of development is not needed, the destruction of an area, that should be being protected, HDC need to re think, the redevelopment.

  • Neil H:

    12 Oct 2020 07:42:00

    HDC revised offer is still full of vagueness. I cannot comment constructively if no details are available. It looks like HDC are trying to get approval of their plans by suggesting possible outcomes. This does not fit in with their supposed partnership with SWT in the Wilder Horsham plan, announced last year, and still threatens to destroy 30% of the accessible green space for Horsham town’s residents..

  • Philip Ayerst:

    12 Oct 2020 08:42:00

    I despair that SWT is apparent supporting such a destructive scheme when the organisation should be vigorously campaigning against this environment damage. What is SWT for if it is not to protect wildlife?
    HDC’s latest thoughts for Rookwood have been prepared in secret, as ever, and have not been formally released even to councillors. SWT’s apparent support is as premature as it is unwise. The majority of the Rookwood Golf Club is still to be concreted over and the massive new roundabout which destroys hedgerows and trees is still included. The school is to replaced by employment or a travellers site, next to the Warnham Nature Reserve. The southern lake is virtually filled in. Large areas of green spaces, corridors, margins and nature will still be lost to dense housing development.
    This public land, given for the people of Horsham, will be sold off to the highest bidder. HDC will relinquish any control over the land and the development, except within the limits of the planning system. This is in contrast to fine words about HDC describing how it would control an “exemplar” scheme full of wildlife promise and green roofs.
    SWT must not be seduced by weasel words and should take a robust line against these plans.

  • 12 Oct 2020 11:30:00

    Yes, HDC have responded to the pressure that we have all applied, however, they still plan to build 750 to 870 dwellings, at 50% greater density, on the Rookwood site. This will obliterate 25% of Horsham Town’s large open green space and is hardly something that any of us can consider an acceptable compromise!

    HDC is clear that they still intend to build in the north adjacent to Warnham Nature Reserve so HDC are not committing to fully safeguard the Reserve.

    Why does SWT not call this out?

    Personally, I would have liked to see a stronger response from SWT, welcoming progress, but being clear that it is not enough and that more is expected of HDC.

  • Helen Wimpenny:

    12 Oct 2020 11:49:00

    HDC urgently need to put biodiversity at the heart of all planning.
    I am concerned that they have not gone far enough to ensure habitats are not being compromised.
    I don’t believe that Rookwood is the place for housing development. Building work and development would have a serious impact on both Wildlife and human health. HDC should be addressing damage to biodiversity as a priority . There’s no point building houses until full and urgent consideration is given nationally to the broader picture,

  • Joanne Knowles:

    12 Oct 2020 13:16:00

    There are other sites and for an inclusive, open, healthy community we need green spaces. Rookwood supports biodiversity and the pay and play golf course is open to everyone. Further this site is accessible by foot, bike and public transport for much of Horsham.
    The site was a gift to the people of Horsham – yes the country needs more housing but this is not the right site.

  • Pierre S.:

    13 Oct 2020 07:29:00

    The proposed development in either size will quite simply decimate wildlife and biodiversity in the area. HDC are prepared to build regardless and quite simply show a staggering lack of vision in respect of conservation in the town and surrounding areas. Rookwood should not be built on !

  • Stacey B:

    13 Oct 2020 10:13:00

    If HDC let this wildlife haven be built on, the impact will be immense and irreversible. Not just to the wildlife, but to all the people who use it. It’ll be gone and future generations will never have the memories of this wonderful area. Please don’t build here.

  • Mario Fami:

    13 Oct 2020 10:13:00

    I would encourage people from the council to leave the office for couple of hours to have a little walk around Rockwood during the day, to really see what it is going on in there: Lot’s of people playing golf, lot’s of people walking, with dogs, doing running… Rookwood provides an amazing area for people to socialice (with social distancing and outdoors), provides the opportunity to do some sports, to breath fresh air and scape a little bit from the routine, such a good area for Horsham. If you go for a walk very early in the morning or late in the evening (around 6/7) you are able to see deers!!!! foxes, squirrels, birds, rabbits… My favourite area in Horsham!!! We need to protect our Wildlife!!!

  • Lucy Holloway:

    13 Oct 2020 11:57:00

    Really disappointed with this response.
    We oppose building on Rookwood in any form, it is NOT the area for development. 800+ houses, no provision to accommodate the school of these children which will put more pressure on an already oversubscribed Tanbridge after Broadbridge Heath.
    This area is a sanctuary for wildlife, not to mention well needed green space for families, dog walkers, cyclists. This pandemic has shown us how important areas like this are for our mental health and wellbeing. Please do not rob us of this place, it would be absolutely devastating. We owe it to future generations to keep Rookwood Green as a nature reserve and place of great beauty and not vandalise it with an inappropriately large number of houses

  • 13 Oct 2020 12:53:24

    @Philip Ayerst: Dear Philip, As it says in this blog, we have not yet seen the detail of the proposals so we have reserved judgment. The fact that Horsham District Council is now recognising the impact on the Local Nature Reserve is a positive step but this does not impact on our commitment to protecting the LNR.

  • 13 Oct 2020 12:55:00

    The Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT) have not yet seen any plans relating to Rookwood Golf Course. SWT submitted a detail and robust response to the Horsham Draft Local Plan. Within the response SWT stood up for wildlife and expressed deep concern that the environmental evidence supporting the plan was lacking. SWT clearly stated that the current approach did not allow the HDC to adequately access the full individual or cumulative impact of the allocations on the district’s natural resources and made it clear that development adjacent to Warnham LNR is not acceptable. You can read our full response to the HDC draft local plan here.

    SWT has also been campaigning against the Government’s proposals to increase housing numbers further (sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/campaign/planning-reforms) and are meeting with Sussex MPs to encourage them to speak up. SWT is clear that we stand up for wildlife and will continually strive to do this, so that biodiversity is embedded at the earliest stages of the plan making process.

  • Kerry:

    13 Oct 2020 15:02:00

    It is vital to keep this treasured area to educate and promote good mental health for those needing outdoor space. Please do not build on this priceless land.

  • Caroline Tibury:

    13 Oct 2020 15:23:00

    Firstly the fact that Rookwood was a gift to the Horsham community, not the council to do what they want. This makes the whole project a disgrace to the council and a devastating loss to the people. Many of us that are aware of this are very disappointed in the council continuing with the Rookwood project to put it mildly! We are so used to politicians saying one thing and then completely backtracking so their concessions are questionable as well.

    As our PM said very recently to the UN ‘Extinction is forever – so our action must be immediate’ and ‘When a species is gone it is gone for good’ . Did the council hear and take in these words? Seems not.

    We are now becoming more and more aware that Covid has changed the way a lot of us work and there will be a huge glut of redundant offices. Has the Council even considered this yet? Surely that is essential for forward planning. Many of these offices could be converted to homes. This would not only require far less green spaces to be destroyed but it would also increase the much needed footfall in Horsham center and, most importantly, it would also have a big positive impact on the very heavy carbon footprint and biodiversity damage of the vast new build Horsham is planning.

    I so hope the Council arn’t pulling the wool over the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s (SWT) eyes and I am disappointed that SWT are not taking a stronger stand to protect Rookwood.

  • Katie Marsh:

    15 Oct 2020 18:50:00

    Rookwood is not the right site for development, for the many reasons already stated; we need to protect wildlife, biodiversity and Warnham Nature Reserve as well as having spaces for people of Horsham to enjoy the outdoors, be in nature and socialise together
    Regardless of whether plans have been seen or not we should all be taking a stand, SWT included, and saying no this is not acceptable
    Even if housing is reduced the impact to wildlife is huge and the land should not be built on!

  • steve downing:

    21 Oct 2020 23:04:00

    After covid there will be massive changes in housing needs with city and town centres left with unused shops and offices which can be converted to low cost housing, and those with families and the more affluent moving into the countryside as many can work from home. There will be no demand for commuter belt housing. The more such homes are built in Horsham the greater will be the crash in prices / even to the point of boarded up abandoned houses like you see in places like Liverpool, The only attraction to buying a home in Horsham will be the natural green places like Rookwood. Destroy it and will be like killing the goose the lays the golden eggs. It will take decades to rebuild such a mature ecosystem.

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