The council is accused of causing delays at the £40m Billingshurst business park

Jeff Hobby, chief executive and owner of the Dunmoore Group, said the council had dragged its feet on planning permission for units in the partially built Billingshurst business park.

And, he said it was costing taxpayers money. He said the council’s planning service cost around £1.4million a year to operate.

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Ultimately, the new business park – off Stane Street – is expected to generate £1.7million a year for the local economy and create 700 jobs.

Howdens is one of the companies already present in the Billingshurst Business Park. Photo S Robards SR2206286

But, in the meantime, he said, the taxpayers were missing.

“We try to provide infrastructure and a good quality of life for local people,” Jeff said.

He said the first phase of development – including the construction of a new roundabout – was completed in two years.

“But,” he said, “we had a recent planning request that took about two years to process and it should have taken about eight weeks.”

Jeff Hobby, MD and Owner of Dunmoore Group and Alex Marshall, Director of Development, at Billingshurst Business Park. Photo S Robards SR2206286

He said that meant one company that wanted to move into the business park had to move to Ireland and another had gone out of business.

He said they were in talks with a number of other companies who were waiting to move into the new units.

Meanwhile, a new Lidl store being built on the site is due to open in October.

And fast food chain McDonald’s said it was considering its next steps after Horsham District Council recently refused permission to open a new restaurant and drive-thru on the site.

A spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with the decision and are considering our options moving forward.”

A petrol station and Costa already operate on the business park, as well as a Howdens store, Billingshurst Tire Company, Easy Bathrooms and Nye Building Supplies.

A Horsham District Council spokesperson said: ‘The council determines over 2,500 applications each year and is one of the top 12 per cent of authorities in the country, determining 98.8 per cent of major planning applications. and 96.7% of minor planning applications within the statutory time period or with extensions agreed with applicants.” We have granted some 65 applications to the business park so far and have received a further 13 applications earlier this month (June 2022) which are under consultation.” We have been managing water neutrality since the Natural England position statement was received in September 2021. “This has resulted in the delay of some applications while the candidates considered how this could be resolved.

“In addition, the board will request additional information and modifications from applicants where it is reasonable to do so if this results in a successful outcome rather than a denial.

“This has been the case for many applications at the Business Park.

“While the council could have decided more quickly on some of these applications, they would have been refused permission, which would not have been in the interest of the candidates or the council.

“If a program is clearly unacceptable and does not comply with board policies, the board will reject it and is unlikely to accept any amendments that do not address its concerns.”

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