Current Issues


Remembrance Garden upgrade underway

This Spring Horsham District Council is giving the Remembrance Garden by the River Arun a much needed upgade. The cost is being met from the contribution that developers' are required to make towards community infrastruture.

The Garden was created by Mrs Nellie Vesta Laughton JP, a well known philanthropic figure in the town in the first half of the 20th Century. She bought the land in 1925 and had the garden laid out in memory of her late husband. Although he hadn't died until 1925 the memorial tablet in the Garden says "...and those that gave their lives for us 1914 - 1918". The work included landscaping, a small bandstand, swings and a paddling pool created by widening the mill leat stream. 

Over the years the Garden was poorly maintained. The Horsham Society made a big push in the 1980s to renovate and maintain the Garden. New benches were put in, the memorial tablet was fished out of the river and mounted on the stone pedestal and a lot of planting work was done. Sadly a gradual deterioration set in once again. The banks of the leat became more overgrown, the crazy-paving paths became even crazier and the two bridges started to give concern about their long-term safety.

The present renovation has been led by the Horsham District Council Parks Department. It started with an inspection a couple of years ago when they recognised the former involvement of the Horsham Society and since then we have worked together with HDC and the Neighbourhood Councils to improve the area. Since Christmas, visitors will have seen gradual changes; new benches, new waste bins and a new bridge over the leat. 

The stream is being tidied up with the approval of the Environment Agency and the former paddling pool was recently dredged.  You might have seen the new information boards which have been erected by the entrances to the Garden.
The HDC works include Mill Bay which was not strictly part of the Remembrance Garden but is much used in the summer. Although not part of the river these days, Mill Bay is still part of the river flood protection as it takes flood water from winter rains. The trees recently planted on this flood plain are resistant to excess water. The pathway through the area is being re-laid and another (different) information board has been erected on the river side of Mill Bay. There is also extensive replanting, designed to require minimal maintenance.
A lot of work has gone into this project and the staff of the Parks Department should be congratulated. It would be nice if a ‘Friends’ group could be set up to support and monitor the on-going condition of the area. Any reader who would like to volunteer for this task should contact John Marder at HDC Parks Department.
(March 2018)

A monstrous carbuncle

When it was announced that Piries Place car park was to be replaced Ray Dawe, Leader of Horsham Council, was quoted by the West Sussex County Times as saying any redevelopment needed to “fit into the townscape of Piries Place”.  What has emerged manifestly fails the test he set. 

The Planning Committee has approved a huge five storey monstrosity similar to that illustrated in the January Newsletter. It is simply too massive for the location and will dominate Horsham's venerable centre. Although partially redeemed by the late addition of a ‘green wall’, we do not believe the Council in years to come will tolerate maintenance costs of up to £30,000 a year. After all, the Shelley fountain was scrapped because of maintenance costs far lower than this.

HDC’s normal excuse for waving through sub standard design is that the councillors dare not risk losing some expensive legal challenge. But this is not a proposal from some outside developer - this is our own council’s plan to redevelop its own car park. It could do far better than this, and Horsham deserves better.

What account was taken of national planning policy which says permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area? One cannot escape the conclusion that building the largest cash cow possible trumped all other considerations.

This case also highlights the potential for a perceived lack of transparency that can arise when a council is both developer and planning authority. There is a strong argument for a change in the law to transfer the planning responsibility for such applications to another authority such as the county council.

Councillors Ignore Local Concerns 

Two important planning applications have been approved by councillors in the face of significant local concerns leaving some to wonder whether there is any point in residents objecting to applications made by, or encouraged by, the Council itself. The Council’s plan to create additional parking at the Pavilions in the Park will destroy what is currently an open attractive entrance from Hurst Road, leaving insufficient pedestrian and cycle access. It is clear that the prospect of increased revenue has been uppermost in the Council’s mind at every stage. The plans were first rejected by the Planning Committee for further consultation but it later emerged that a subsequent officers’ report recommending approval of the application was written before a key meeting with the Horsham Cycling Forum had even been held! The second application was for a temporary ice rink in Horsham Park on the site of the volleyball court. It will operate every day from 10am to 9pm for three months, except Christmas Day. Despite a large number of objections on the grounds that this is a totally inappropriate location, which will create significant nuisance to local residents without increasing trade in the town centre, the Planning Committee gave its approval. At the meeting our Chairman, Malcolm Willis, spoke against the plan. Apparently there were promises that if the project was not successful it would not be allowed in future years. One wonders how the Council will measure success given that it wants to create a permanent events space of its own in exactly the same location! 


Nellie Laughton's Coronation Cup

Can you throw any light on the history of this ‘Coronation Cup’ presented by Mrs Nellie Laughton in 1937?

One of our members recently came across the cup but has no recollection of why or how it came into his possession. Horsham would have seen many parades and celebrations in the year of the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, but what might this cup have been awarded for, and to whom? Or possibly it was one of a number that Mrs Laughton had produced for different events.

If you have any information please contact John Steele on 01403 272814.

(March 2018)

Gospel Hall closes its doors after 154 years of worship

Successful towns never stand still but evolve over time to accommodate changes in fashion, commerce and the local economy. One measure of the success of a town like Horsham is the speed with which buildings and shops which fall empty are refashioned and reborn in a new form. We are seeing this as the impact of the internet is changing the face of our shopping streets. Favourite shops close, as do some where one wonders how they clung on so long, only for others to take their place. The shift from places to buy goods to places to consume services and enjoy experiences is moving ahead apace. Nail bars, hair salons, coffee shops and cinemas and yes, shops to browse, make impulse buys and collect internet purchases, rapidly fill empty spaces. We are lucky that such is the confidence in Horsham’s local economy that we have a smaller proportion of voids, as empty shops are called, at any one time, and they fill faster, than many less fortunate towns. But it’s not just in shops that we see such changes. In December the Gospel Hall in Denne Road (pictured above) closed its doors after 154 years as a place of worship. It was built in 1863 in a simple, functional style by Charles Eversfield, owner of Denne Park. It became one of the largest meetings of its type in southern England, made up largely of local tradesmen. The church has now moved to Appleyards at 72 Brighton Road and changed its name to Appleyards Bible Church. The Gospel Hall has been sold and there are plans to convert it into a hair salon. It will be good if an interesting building with such deep historical connections with the life of town has found a new use so quickly, and one so emblematic of the early twenty-first century.



Paving malfunction in East Street

Last October (2017) workmen took up a section of the blockwork in East Street outside the Hong Kong Chinese takeaway to access services below the pavement. 

Nothing special about that you may think. But when East Street was upgraded some years ago the paviours were laid in a particular pattern at considerable expense. It should have been obvious to the workmen that they had to be relaiod in the same pattern, but no.  They were relaid randomly leaving the area looking a complete mess. 

We contacted West Sussex County Council which promised to get UKPN to sort the problem out. Almost five months later we are still waiting for the paving to be relaid.

Update: the remedial work was finally completed in late March - not perfect but nearly so. 


Should Mobility Scooters Be Taxed and Insured?

With our ageing, often affluent,  population it is unsurprising that mobility scooters are becoming more popular in the town. They are a boon for people with mobility issues for whom in many cases they provide the only means of continuing a normal lifestyle. But there is another side. As the scooters get bigger and more abundant inevitably there can be conflicts between scooter users, pedestrians and others jostling for space. In the wrong hands, scooters in pedestrian areas are potentially as dangerous as cars on the roads. They accelerate quickly, move surprisingly fast and are silent. There are two types of scooter. The first, limited to 4mph, is for use on pavements; the second, limited to 8mph, is equipped to use the roads as well (but must not exceed 4mph on pavements). The Highway Code says scooter users should give pedestrians priority and show consideration for other pavement users Two things come to mind: 4mph is a fast walking pace, much faster than pedestrians walk in shopping areas, and 8mph seems extraordinarily slow for our busy roads. Anybody can buy and use a scooter even if they have never driven a car, or ridden a bicycle. There is no training, no tax and no requirement for insurance, although this can be obtained quite cheaply. Nationally mobility scooter accidents, and even fatalities are rising. There are strong arguments for at least making training and insurance mandatory Locally, the Horsham Town Community Partnership, with support from Age UK and the Horsham District Older People’s Forum, is planning to run a pilot training scheme for new mobility scooter users later this year, designed to build their confidence and hopefully help them to understand the Highway Code and the inherent.