Homes England undertook a further set of public consultations during March 2021. They described them as ‘These sessions will be the opportunity for residents and other members of the community to see and discuss the draft masterplan for the site, which is being promoted through the Horsham Local Plan as a new neighbourhood containing 3,250 homes, schools, green spaces, and community infrastructure.’
‘The draft masterplan has been developed following the input we received from the community during our first series of public engagement events held in January 2020. During these sessions we consulted on the principles of development and we would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who participated in these events. ‘
There were three online sessions available to the public – they were limited in terms of the number of people that could attend, so we are not sure how many people actually attended nor how many were from Crawley.
Cllr Peter Smith attended a Councillor preview on Thursday 18th March, which included personnel from HDC as well, and other Labour Councillors and candidates in the 2021 elections attended a public event including Cllr Jilly Hart, Sandra Buck (CBC candidate) and Alison Cornell (WSCC candidate).
We were offered the opportunity to hold a ‘Talk Ifield’ public session as part of this sequence of meetings but sadly it did not prove possible to arrange this.
Homes England – ‘About the Plans’
This is the ‘About the Plans’ material published by Homes England. Share Your Views On West Of Ifield – Commonplace At time of writing (after the consultation had closed) their system is showing a total of nearly 800 comments. It is difficult to find any positive comments among them. We have captured copies of all of their published material.
It is interesting to note that the ‘masterplan’ is, apparently, now for 3250 homes and not 10,000 homes. I’m not sure how this ‘masterplan’ interacts with any ‘masterplan’ for the whole 10,000 site.
The key points that I noted were:
- The proposal is for 3250 units (I have seen 3500 mentioned in some places)
- They are proposing 35% affordable (this is already reduced from the 40% previously mentioned – the level required by Crawley’s Local Plan)
- The Western Link road is shown as connecting to Ifield Green, although with a further, dotted line, element heading north to an unknown destination.
- Intriguingly the Western Link Road is shown as having a pedestrian path, a bike path, a bus lane and a vehicle lane separated by some kind of green element on both sides. This road would pass through the centre of the community area and mention was made of having a 20mph speed limit. So it did not look very much like a ‘bypass’ type of road and, therefore, when it is all joined up it is hard to see how it would function as a link road (between the A264 and Ifield Avenue) which is the key reason for having it.
Specific mention was made of an Autumn planning application, but it was not explained how this would work alongside HDC Local Plan schedule.
Other points raised by Ifield Labour Councillors at the public meetings:
- Q: Why is Crawley not the lead authority in these proposals given that there will be minimal impact on Horsham and major impact on Crawley?
A: Simon Mattinson and Nicholas Milner, both from HE, talked about partnership working, but really didn’t answer beyond land.
- Q: What happens if (and when) their vision of a ‘15 minute neighbourhood’ fails as people take to their cars. I did point out that Crawley already has 13 15 minute neighbourhoods where people all use their cars. I also asked about the viability of Ifield station to absorb a significant increase in volume.
A: there was considerable discussion on this and a deal of concern expressed which (of course!) they recognised. They did say the whole thing wouldn’t go ahead unless the independent transport survey was favorable and that was being undertaken in the summer. I asked if residents were able to contribute to that review and was essentially told they could respond, which I pointed out was not the same as contributing.
Simon did describe Ifield Station as ‘not fit for purpose’ in it’s current state, needing a longer platform, more cycle parking and more trains. He said they were in discussions with network Rail.
- Q: There was much discussion and concern around the relief road (and construction traffic) which is not anticipated to be ready until 4 years in. Concern was not just around it’s construction but it’s efficacy in easing the increased volume of traffic long term.
A: Simon pretty much accepted that they had not done enough work on this and further consultations in the summer, when the transport report had been completed, would be needed.
- Q: Someone else asked about GP facilities, raising the point about the existing provision being fully stretched.
A: Simon talked loosely about facilities that could be provided in the centre etc but without any specifics.
There was no time to discuss what affordable housing means, the housing mix or anything like that.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us about the West of Ifield Homes England plans.
Cllr Sandra Buck
07886 209381 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Peter Smith
07703 502430 email@example.com
Cllr Chris Oxlade
07710 900813 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Alison Cornell
07760 111152 email@example.com
Cllr Peter Smith
Ifield and Ifield West
Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development