Parish calls for major housing plans for Ifield West to be reconsidered

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The Crawley cabinet member responsible for planning has fought back at fresh calls for housing plans to the west of Ifield to be resurrected.

In its Preferred Strategy for housing development, Horsham District Council (HDC) has ruled out the area surrounding Ifield Golf Course as a site for 2,500-3,500 houses, proposing instead to build a large development north of Horsham.

However, at a meeting last night (February 11) North Horsham Parish Council was due to put forward an Alternative Strategy, which says it should be developed.

It reads: “The Ifield area could be planned to take substantial new development once the airport strategy has been determined.”

Richard Thomas, director Welbeck Land, one of the three developers drawing up the West of Ifield proposal, welcomed the debate. He added Welbeck would also meet the £3-4m cost of the Environment Agency’s proposed flood defences in Ifield.

He said: “Every council - and Crawley aren’t alone - doesn’t want to foist their needs on their neighbours.

“The Housing and Communities Agency owns a lot of the land there.

“We’re not developing next to the conservation area, our site doesn’t flood, we can resolve the flooding issues at Gatwick Airport, it’s less obtrusive in landscaping terms.

“Why shove Crawley’s growth somewhere else, when we can put it on the edge?”

Crawley Borough Council cabinet member for planning and economic Cllr Bob Lanzer development disagrees.

He said: “I do not support an additional development west of Ifield. I think the official local plan and the North Horsham proposal that they are considering have a lot of merit.

“You need to remember that Horsham has a very much greater land area than Crawley, which is good because it gives the opportunity to explore more options.

“There’s a lot of sound reasoning to support the North Horsham development.”

He has the support of HDC. Cabinet member for living and working communities Cllr Claire Vickers said: “West of Ifield would require a western link road, it cannot be built on because Kilnwood Vale is being built and it couldn’t be developed without the support of CBC. The Sustainability Appraisal says North of Horsham is the least environmentally sensitive.”