‘Delight’ at Rookwood development plans being dropped

‘Delighted’ Horsham groups have welcomed the district council’s decision to drop plans to build new housing at Rookwood Golf Course.
Rookwood Golf Centre. Pic S Robards SR2104203 SUS-210420-170642001Rookwood Golf Centre. Pic S Robards SR2104203 SUS-210420-170642001
Rookwood Golf Centre. Pic S Robards SR2104203 SUS-210420-170642001

The proposals, since they were made public in early 2020, have been massively unpopular in the town.

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Malcolm Willis, vice chairman of the Horsham Society, said: “Horsham Society are delighted that Horsham District Council, under new leadership, has withdrawn Rookwood from the local plan.

“We are pleased that the local community voice has been heard. This, however, is only a reprieve for the next two years, during which the council has promised to engage with the community before making any long term commitment. Having recently succeeded in gaining Asset of Community Value status for Rookwood, Horsham Society will continue to fight for this important local facility.”

A spokesperson for the Keep Rookwood Green Alliance said: “We are delighted HDC have listened to the views of the town and have taken Rookwood out of the current local plan, but note future development is not ruled out.

“We welcome the new direction being taken by the council, particularly their proposal to work closely with local groups and open a further in-depth consultation regarding Rookwood’s future. This is something we have been calling for over the past 18 months.

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“We are extremely grateful to everyone who has supported the campaign to Keep Rookwood Green. This has demonstrated the strength of feeling towards preserving and enhancing this valuable community asset.

“It is vital that attention remains focused on Rookwood’s long-term future. We look forward to engaging with HDC and the community to ensure the long-term protection of the golf course and Rookwood’s natural green space.”

Martin Boffey, a Lib Dem councillor for Trafalgar, added: “I am very pleased that Horsham District Council has today seen reason and announced it will no longer consider the Rookwood site in the Local Plan.

“This is a just reward for all the hard work of local representatives, community groups and residents involved in the campaign to Save Rookwood, as well as simply being the right thing to do as regards a facility recognised by the Council itself as an ‘Asset of Community Value’.

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“I am only sad that Horsham residents, and particularly those in the Trafalgar Ward, have had to endure so much unnecessary fear and anguish for so long over a proposal which should never have come forward in the first place - especially when as a community we have been enduring the hardships and ravages of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“The Council’s statement today answers some, but not all of the questions about Rookwood’s future, and indeed raises yet more. As both a District and Neighbourhood Councillor for Trafalgar I will continue to ask questions and make representations to both Cabinet Members and Officers of the Council and hold them to account for the undertakings they have given. As a community we must make sure that this is not merely a stay of execution for Rookwood.

“Nevertheless, today’s announcement is a cause for cautious optimism and hopefully a demonstration to those of our residents who perhaps feel ignored or marginalised, or that their voice is never heard, that if we work together and keep fighting we can indeed effect positive change.”