Increased hours for marketed Southwater business park rejected

Horsham District Council’s planning committee has turned down an application to allow longer operating hours at Oakhurst Business Park.

Oakhurst Business Park Southwater (Photo from Google Maps Street View)
Oakhurst Business Park Southwater (Photo from Google Maps Street View)

The application, submitted by the council itself, asked for eight units in the Southwater park to be allowed to open for 20 hours more per week.

At the moment, the units can operate from 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 7am to 1pm on Saturday.

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The application asked for the hours to be extended to 9pm during the week and 6pm on Saturday.

A report to the committee said no units had been leased since December 2020, with the ‘restrictive’ opening hours given as one reason for the lack of ongoing interest.

But committee members felt allowing the change would set a precedent.

Claire Vckers (Con, Southwater North) said: “I appreciate the economic benefits of letting these buildings to the local economy, and I don’t wish to stifle those benefits.

“However, I’m worried that this will indeed set a precedent.

“I don’t believe that these buildings can’t be let with those current hours.

“We’ve been in a difficult period these last 18 months and I believe with more marketing it should be possible for these buildings to be let.”

Mrs Vickers said the hours proposed were ‘a step too far’ and called the application ‘premature’.

It was a view shared by residents who live nearby, with one saying increased hours would lead to ‘intrusive noise disturbance’.

Another called the application ‘planning by stealth’, while some predicted extra hours would be added over time, either to these units or others.

To view the application, log on to public-access.horsham.gov.uk and search for DC/21/0625