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Rookwood – Wildlife and open spaces put at the heart of a new alternative plan

13 Oct 2020

Following feedback from the Local Plan Consultation on a proposal for the future of Rookwood golf course on the edge of Horsham, an alternative proposal could see expansion of Warnham Local Nature Reserve and the area becoming much more open for full public use in the future.

Horsham District Council is developing an alternative proposal which would enable most of the northern section of the current golf course to be turned into protected, recreational and accessible green space with increased biodiversity and opportunities for rewilding and additional open-air leisure facilities.

This proposal will be submitted by Avison Young, alongside the original plan, for independent assessment by Strategic Planning Officers as part of the process for the Council’s new Local Plan that the Government requires it to produce.

If allocated, this alternative proposal would:

  • Provide around 45-50 ha of publicly accessible green space;
  • Provide an opportunity to extend Warnham Nature Reserve, increase biodiversity and open the current golf fairways closest to the Nature Reserve to much greater flora and fauna;
  • Limit housing development to just over one third of the total land area and primarily focused to the south of Warnham Road;
  • Provide an opportunity to release the land north of the link between the Walnut Tree plantation and the Nature Reserve for public recreational access rather than only golf;
  • Maintain the integrity of Boldings Brook, Red River and the Riverside Walk.

Councillor Jonathan Chowen, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture said:

We have listened to the community views about Rookwood and we have taken on board their feedback, namely concern about protection for Warnham Local Nature Reserve, and secondly a wish to have publicly accessible natural green space for recreation in the locality.

“As a result, we are developing an alternative scheme that opens up the area to wider public recreational use - it is currently primarily limited to golf use - while enhancing wildlife and biodiversity adjacent to the Nature Reserve.

“If the proposal is allocated through the Local Plan, then we would be keen to further consult and work closely with the residents, partners and stakeholders to develop ideas for what the project will ultimately look like. We will, for example, look to expand aspects of Warnham Local Nature Reserve and ensure that nature continues to thrive at Rookwood and is protected through our Wilder Horsham nature recovery networks.

“These additional new initiatives have financial consequences and along with the current pandemic crisis, puts further strain on the Council’s budgets. It is also vital to protect other community assets, parks, the museum, theatre, leisure centres and vital services that will rebuild our finances.

“Although the plan significantly reduces the number of houses that can be provided, it still provides some 300 new affordable homes and we have an opportunity to provide a visionary eco-friendly, sustainable and imaginative development within a garden setting, with some 70% open space that will also deliver our corporate ambitions on the environment.”

Councillor Jonathan Chowen, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture

The next version of the Local Plan (Regulation 19) will be published for consultation early next year.

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