More than 4,000 people have signed a petition opposing plans to build a 172 acre business park near Horley.
Campaign group Keep Horley Green was launched after Reigate & Banstead District Council (RBC) agreed to work with landowners on the plan for the site on both sides of Balcombe Road and north of the M23 in October 2015.
Joanna Barnett, of Keep Horley Green, said: “The Keep Horley green Campaign, petition and Facebook page was set up by Anelise Whittaker, myself and a group of other residents and members of the public, all of whom were shocked and outraged by the proposals.
“If the plans were to progress to the planning stage £545,000 of public money would be wasted, there would be an increased risk of flooding to homes and businesses, Horley would lose 21 hectares of public open space, the town would lose the Gatwick open setting and become physically joined to Gatwick Airport, Horley would also lose a large part of its rural surrounds and be faced with public infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospitals being put under unreasonable pressure.”
She said the campaign had seen its online and paper petition get 4,000 signatures, an online video of her rowing across a flooded field viewed more than 40,000 times and an ‘overwhelming positive’ response from the public on social media.
A Keep Horley Green video showed her rowing across a flooded field in Fishers Farm, Limes Avenue, Horley, after heavy rain fell on January 3.
Joanna said she believed the development would mean nearby homes could flood.
Aneliese, of Ifield, an events and community fundraiser for charity Home-Start CHAMS at Broadfield Barton, said: “Horley was, and has been my family home for generations, and I hoped to return there to bring up my son too but at this rate Horley will be changed greatly, and not for the best.”
Joanna said the paper petition’s signatures had been growing ‘very quickly’.
They were available in Horley at The Airfield Tavern, High Street, and Jai Ho, Balcombe Road, which is in the proposed site. Councillor Natalie Bramhall, RBC executive member for Property and Regeneration, speaking after the bid was discussed in October last year: “We have a significant opportunity for the council to secure the delivery of what could potentially be a leading business park in the south east and a strategically important employment site nationally.
“If given the go ahead, it would create thousands of new jobs and attract significant inward investment, which will massively boost the borough’s local economy, particularly in and around Horley. We have already undertaken a variety of studies that indicate that the venture is viable and its success does not depend upon any expansion of Gatwick.”
Green party councillors and Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) have opposed the plan.
GACC Chairman Brendon Sewill said it would make the area ‘an amorphous mess of offices, factories and traffic lights’.
Gatwick Airport Limited, Crawley Borough Council, Horley Town Council have declined to comment.
A Horley council spokesman said it would not comment before further details were made available after a planning application was submitted.
A Crawley council spokesman said: “It’s far too early to comment because we don’t have any information on any plans.
However, we will be a formal consultee if an outline planning application is submitted in the future and will respond at that time.
“The council will look to work with Reigate and Banstead District Council to ensure that the impact and implications on the community, the town’s infrastructure and its economy is considered, as the plans and details develop.”