HTCP RESPONSE TO ROOKWOOD'S INCLUSION IN HDC LOCAL PLAN
- HDC’s fourth plan is clearly a big improvement and demonstrates HDC’s understanding of the long-term impacts of loss of natural space around urban areas. We note their Green Space Strategy, “To recognise and protect the benefits that green spaces have on the health and well-being of local residents. To enhance the quality of life in the District by providing opportunities for community cohesion, recreation, environmental awareness and volunteering.”
- The Riverside Walk (RSW) helps the local economy and is an economic asset as explained in HMG Treasury Dasgupta Review of February 2021.
- The Government’s National Planning Policy Framework is supportive of the preservation, restoration and re-creation of biodiversity. It also makes provision for the designation of ‘Local Green Spaces’.
- The plans to build on Rookwood contradict HDC’s own Green Space Strategy 2013 - 2023. "Working together to provide green spaces for all”.
- HDC Green Space Strategy also notes, (P 55) “The Accessible Natural Greenspace Guidance states that there should be at least one Hectare of LNR per 1000 population. Horsham District currently has just one Local Nature Reserve of 38ha (Warnham Nature Reserve) for a 130,000 population, which is only 0.3ha per 1000 population. A further 92ha is required to meet guidelines.” Rookwood makes up one third of Horsham town's green space, was originally part of the Local Nature Reserve and is the right size to enable HDC to meet this goal.
- The HTCP website shows a 400% average daily increase in the number of hits from January 2020 to January 2021, mainly to download the map of the RSW. Residents access Rookwood on foot from their homes in the town without crossing roads to walk through the golf course area and many do so with their dogs.
- Rookwood's close proximity to the town is especially helpful to the elderly and physically disabled and HTCP run free mobility scooter safety sessions. For the participants, the RSW is a rare place to enjoy the freedom of rural views away from traffic and breathe fresh air while using their mobility scooters. Similar comments come from wheelchair users and their carers. With development here, along with North of Horsham and the Land South of Newhouse Farm, one-fifth of the RSW would become urban. The environment experienced as people move through Nature is excellent for physical and mental health. After Covid 19, the most urgent health crisis in the UK is now depression, which has huge economic implications, potentially including the cost of needing to support more adults in care. Towns like Oxford and Winchester are visited because of the beautiful riverside walks close to their attractive town centres.
- HM Government Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport on 18 Jan 2021, said: “The importance of sport and physical activity, including golf, for the nation’s physical and mental health has never been more apparent. They are a powerful defence against the covid-19 pandemic, and we will need to raise levels of fitness among the population as we prepare to return to our normal lives… Golf has great reach across society as people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities can take part in the game; it brings people together to experience the outdoors and enjoy nature.” HDC’s view that it is surplus to requirements now appears out of date. Rookwood is not an exclusive members-only course. It is a pay-as-you-go municipal course where season ticket holders can play for around £5.
- Environmental experts agree that better protection is provided for Warnham Nature Reserve and the RSW by keeping Rookwood as it is now, as a busy golf course, rather than making a Country Park, particularly as there has been no suggestion of how to make a 10% increase in biodiversity. HDC has expenses to support Southwater Country Park, while the Rookwood Golf Club provides an income.
- There needs to be a levelling up of green spaces across Horsham District. As about 30% of all taxpaying HD residents live in Horsham town it would seem fair that they are part of HDC’s Wilder Horsham Initiative, ensuring that all of Horsham District, including the town, remains a healthy green and pleasant land.
- Ensuring, “green space is retained for more indirect environmental benefits such as surface water attenuation and climate change mitigation”, is another of HDC’s stated aims.
- Council Tax would be achieved from all properties built anywhere in Horsham District.
- Many thousands of residents have objected via letters to the press and the petition.
- The current proposal for Rookwood is in direct contradiction with the latest HMG Treasury review of the economy of ecology: “We must change our measures of economic success to guide us on a more sustainable path… We must transform our institutions and systems – in particular our finance.”
- It makes pointless HDC’s aims to: “establish a collaborative network of community groups who are all engaged with reversing the decline of wildlife and increasing access to the natural environment”.
- Whilst we support the ideas of eco-development in these plans, there is no guarantee that reality will live up to the promise. Rookwood Golf Course is not the right place for development if we are to achieve a sustainable balance of welfare in the broadest and truest sense of the word for all who live in Horsham District, particularly those already most disadvantaged.
From Natural England
We are glad to have this opportunity to share HTCP’s views.
“The objects of the Partnership are to benefit the built-up area of Horsham Town and its community by working on issues and projects of interest and concern to the area, and which will contribute to securing its long-term viability and the maintenance of its particular character, heritage and amenities.”
From Local Support
The following websites contain a huge number of well-referenced documents supporting many statements above.
HDC have said it is evident from the media that there is widespread misconception about the proposals at Rookwood. They believe it is in the public interest that accurate information is presented so people can reach their own conclusions based on the facts.
HDC have created a new website that describes the modified scheme and will keep you and local residents informed as the project progresses. Please click on the link below: