Sandgate Country Park
It is a long-standing policy of Horsham District Council (HDC) that a country park should be formed out of the Sandgate Park Quarry and surrounding quarries and land. The concept of the Country Park has developed, over time, in line with changes in local pressures, patterns (such as demographics) and expectations. Also the status of some of the various sites which could eventually form the Country Park has changed.
History of the area
Before 1887 the Sandgate Estate covered about four thousand acres to the north of the Storrington – Washington Road. The estate was centred on Sandgate House and its surrounding ornamental park immediately to the north of the road.
The break-up of the estate started in 1887 on the death of George Carew Gibson and was continued by W.V Felton in 1917. Much of the land forming the bulk of the estate has been developed, a great deal of it for residential purposes. Some of the land is farmed. The house and its surrounding parkland remained in private hands until soon after the end of World War 2 when it was purchased by commercial sand extraction companies. The house was soon demolished with only some stables and outbuildings initially retained for the use as offices and stores.
Location and progress
Sandgate Conservation Society’s concept for the Country Park started off with the areas of land that already had public access: Sandgate Park; Sullington Warren; and Warren Hill, and then to take advantage of any opportunity to join these existing sites with a footpath and where possible to increase the area of land with public access.
Recently significant progress has been made towards realising the vision of Sandgate Country Park – this is described below. Sandgate Conservation Society has worked, and will continue to work, to help ensure the best possible outcome for Sandgate Country Park by such activities as commenting on planning applications, getting involved in such consultations like the County Minerals Plan; neighbourhood plans; and the Horsham Strategic Plan, and raising issues with local councillors.
The map shows the approximate locations and extents of the quarry and ex-quarry sites on either side of the Hampers Lane relevant to the formation of Sandgate Country Park. Each area, and its current status in relation to the concept of the Country Park, is described below.
Sandgate Quarry (Sandgate Park Quarry) – 90 acres approximately
This area is owned by CEMEX. There are two parts to the Sandgate Quarry site – the working quarry area and the area in the north where quarrying work has already finished.
The aspiration for the working quarry area of the site is that this should form the core of the Country Park when quarrying stops. The permit for sand-winning extended to 2042 under the 1991 Planning and Compensation Act. In late 2018 CEMEX submitted a planning application to amend the agreed restoration plan for the site (WSCC/044/18/SR). The restoration plan at that time (agreed January 2010) included the excavated sand pit being left as a large, deep lake with planting and a footpath around it. The amended restoration plan involves the infilling of the excavated pit with imported inert waste to create an area of shallow ponds and wet heath. The application stated that should it be granted the mineral extraction and restoration work at the quarry would be completed in 11 years. The Society objected to the planning application on a number of points including the volume of material that would need to be imported (1.8m tonnes) and the resulting additional local HGV traffic. However, planning permission was granted, with condition, in early January 2020. It is therefore expected that the restoration of the quarry should be completed around 2031.
In the northern part of the site was designated as part of Phase 1 of Sandgate Country Park within the context of the Millford Grange development planning application, along with the old RMC quarry area (see below). Restoration work and tree planting had been carried out but for some time there was still no public access even though the conditions of the Millford Grange planning permissions required access to be provided. Then in September 2018 enabling works commenced on this area to enable public access and provide connecting paths into Sandgate Park, with barriers to prevent public access to the working quarry, providing fascinating views of the quarries and far reaching views to the South Downs. The Society believes that its representations to the district council helped move things along, and the Society also helped resolve issues regarding access including raising funds towards providing a footbridge between this area and Sandgate Park. This area is now also called Sandgate Park (i.e. the same as the Horsham District Council owned park that adjoins its northern edge) although it remains owned by CEMEX.
Washington Sand Pit – 17 acres approximately
This site, previously owned by Hanson, is now owned by Britaniacrest Recycling Ltd. This site has planning consent, granted 1st May 2015 (recorded by HDC as DC/13/2460), for the continuation of mineral extraction for a two year period and the importation of inert material over a five year period only, to enable the restoration of mineral working at Washington Sandpit for the long term benefit of the Sandgate Country Park. This planning permission was varied in 2018 (recorded by HDC as NC/18/004 and by WSCC as WSCC/009/18 /SR) to allow sand extraction until 31 December 2019 and required the importation of material by road to cease and the restoration of the land to be completed by 1st May 2020. However, in January 2020 Britaniacrest submitted an application to vary conditions, again, and allow a further two years of extraction and restoration by 2028. As of early August 2020 a decision was still pending but the expectation is that the application will be granted.
A path along the northern boundary of this pit from Hampers Lane connecting to a path running along the northern edge of the Sandgate Quarry would provide an off-road path from Water Lane to Hampers Lane that avoids encroaching on the privacy of residents of Badgers Holt.
David Wilson Homes (DWH / Millford Grange)
This site, previously owned by RMC and then CEMEX, was acquired by Barratt Homes (developed under their brand – David Wilson Homes). This site is of significance in respect of the Country Park because the planning application for the Millford Grange Housing Development includes the implementation of Phase 1 of Sandgate Country Park.
Phase 1 of Sandgate Country Park comprises the site to the north of this development (the Old RMC Quarry, see below), plus approximately 18.5 acres of the Sandgate Quarry site – the restored northern area as described above – and connecting footpaths. Phase 1 of Sandgate Country Park is described in the Long Term Landscape Management Strategy for Phase 1 of Sandgate Country Park, which was submitted by Barratt Homes as part of the proposal for Millford Grange.
It was partially on the basis of the provision of Phase 1 of Sandgate Country Park that this planning application was allowed on appeal. Millford Grange Appeal Decision Paragraphs 87-93 and 116 refer.
Old RMC Quarry – 11 acres approximately.
This site was also acquired by Barratt Homes from CEMEX. Under the terms of the Long Term Landscape Management Strategy Barratt Homes was responsible for carrying out the works to change the site from private land to country park, and to maintain this part of the Country Park for 25 years thereafter. It is understood that ownership of this area transferred to the homeowners at Millford Grange as part of the terms of transfer when they purchased their properties and that responsibility for maintenance of the area has been transferred to a management company under the control of the Millford Grange residents.
This area is now accessible by the public, for quiet enjoyment and onward access, via a gate on Hampers Lane opposite Badgers Holt. Paths have been laid and a number of benches installed. The area has been much improved by the management company which has removed rubbish such as discarded plastic tree tubes but have retained the wild flowers and scrub that provides an excellent wildlife habitat.
A path provided by the National Trust across one of their fields provides a route from Millford Grange to Georges Lane. The NT path emerges onto Georges Lane near the NT Warren Hill car park providing a link to the existing public footpath across Washington Common to the A24 underpass.