New ski training centre in South Downs given thumbs up

Beaming grins, hugs and a heartfelt ‘thank you’ greeted a decision to allow a ski training centre to be opened in Small Dole.

Proposals for a new ski training centre in Small Dole
Proposals for a new ski training centre in Small Dole

Officers at Horsham District Council had recommended that the application, from a start-up company called Moving Mountains, be refused – but members of the planning committee didn’t agree.

After three years of searching for a suitable home, the centre will open in units 53 and 54 on the Mackley Industrial Estate, in Henfield Road.

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The committee was told that there had been 13 letters of support for the application, with the only objection coming from Horsham’s planning team.

Officers said the application went against planning policy as it would mean the loss of employment floor space within a key employment area.

But Quill Roberts, speaking in support of the application, pointed out that the centre would employ up to 14 staff, compared to the two working for the previous business at the site.

Mr Roberts said the centre was a ‘unique and innovative’ start-up company, which offered the ‘fastest, most efficient way’ to learn to ski and snowboard.

He added: “This is an opportunity for employment and for Horsham District to enhance its reputation as a progressive council that supports innovative start-ups.”

The majority of committee members felt the level of employment which would be brought by the centre justified a breach of Horsham’s planning policy.

Paul Clarke (Con, Pulborough & Coldwaltham) said: “Surely the strategy is actually to provide employment. I accept that we’re splitting hairs as to the type of employment.

“But in this particular case these units are going to provide jobs – potentially more jobs than were there already.”

Paul Marshall (Con, Chantry) said: “It would be a significant shame if we lost an opportunity for a vibrant new-starting business to come into this district.”

Gordon Lindsay (Con, Billingshurst & Shipley) simply said: “I think it’s an great idea – go for it,” while David Coldwell (Con, Bramber, Upper Beeding & Woodmancote) added: “I really look forward to seeing cars with skis on the roof going through Small Dole.”

The application was approved by 13 votes to three, with one abstention, prompting an exclamation of ‘oh my God’ from a delighted supporter.

Karen Dunn , Local Democracy Reporting Service