Massive 170 acre business park planned outside Horley to produce a Gatwick airport city

Residents and businesses are shocked and appalled at news that Reigate and Banstead Borough Council  has agreed in principle to use compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for a business park on 172 acres of land off Balcombe Road, in Horley. That’s equivalent to 85 football pitches. The council says major international businesses want to move to the area. Residents who would be affected say they knew nothing about the plan in advance. Green Party Surrey County Councillor Jonathan Essex said the development would use up green space, which separated homes in Horley, from nearby Gatwick airporta and “Horley should be a separate town, not just part of the urban sprawl of Gatwick.” A local Conservative councillor said information about the plans could not be made public previously because it was “commercially confidential” andt that “Now we have made the decision we will be talking to and consulting with residents, employers and landowners who could potentially be affected.” There is now a campaign called Keep Horley Green, to oppose the plans. They have a Facebook page and a petition to local MP Sam Giymah. People want green countryside preserved, rather then being covered in concrete. One of the properties under threat of compulsory purchase is Bayhorne Farm, 72 acres.  172 acres is a vast area for a business park – far larger than average.  It would become an “aerotropolis” project.


Keep Horley Green campaign started to fight business park plans


By Joshua Searle    (Surrey Mirror)

SAYING NO: Aneliese Whittaker has launched a campaign opposing council proposals for a business park in Horley 

Residents, businesses and landowners are determined to battle Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s plan to build a 172-acre industrial estate on farmland on either side of Balcombe Road, between the railway line and Burstow Stream.

As the Mirror went to press, more than 2,400 people had signed the Keep Horley Green petition, set up by Aneliese Whittaker.

The Ifield resident started the campaign after seeing a preliminary site drawing from the council, which suggests her family home, Bayhorne Farm, would need to be bulldozed to make way for the site.

The 72-acre farm, which is now an equestrian centre, has been open for more than 50 years and is the former home of David Whittaker, a well-known Horley farmer.

It has planning application history, too. In the 1990s, Horley Town Football Club was considering the area as a potential stadium location.

Miss Whittaker said: “My dad and grandfather fought long and hard to protect the farm from those plans, and these new plans are something I want to fight. If I don’t, then what would happen to our countryside?

“Will it all be destroyed and built on in the name of ‘progress’ – we have to draw a line somewhere.

“Many people live in Horley due to the small, rural feel of the town being an attraction – shall we just build on everything in sight and destroy the town completely?

“Horley was and has been my family home for generations. 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.”

Miss Whittaker is also concerned about the impact any building work could have on the area’s wildlife.

Along with Bayhorne Farm, council officers may have to force Indian restaurant Jai Ho and Cranbrook Adventurers Out of School Club to sell up and move on, should the business park go ahead.

Since creating the petition, 30-year-old Miss Whittaker says she has had an “overwhelming response”, adding: “The community want to preserve the countryside and its heritage, keeping the small town rural feel, rather than bulldozing all of the green open spaces we have and replacing them with yet more concrete.”

To keep up to date with Keep Horley Green’s activities, go to its Facebook page.

Those who object to the plan are also being encouraged to write to their ward councillor and East Surrey MP Sam Gyimah.

To sign paper copies of the petition, go to Jai Ho in Balcombe Road or The Airfield Tavern in Horley High Street.

To sign the petition online go to

The council says…

JOHN REED, head of property at Reigate and Banstead Borough Council said: “It appears that some assumptions are already being made about the proposals.

“The council and its joint venture partners have a significant amount of work to do before they will have any proposals or programmes to consult on before an outline planning application is made. There is a danger that assumptions could be made that are premature until this further work has been done.

“At this very early stage, we have simply identified the potential extent of the site, but how that could evolve needs a considerable amount of design work and numerous supporting studies.

“However, what is evident from our studies is that great employers – international companies – have been looking to invest in the borough and have been unable to find office accommodation that meets their needs. As a result they have gone elsewhere.

“This is precisely the location they would want and we can build them the space they require. Their presence will benefit both residents and business in the south of Horley. That benefit can and will be built in to the scheme and would come with thousands of jobs.

“At the moment, we are at the very beginning of a lengthy process. There will be many opportunities throughout this for the community to get involved in consultations about these proposals. We recognise the importance of keeping in touch with stakeholders and do, of course, welcome and encourage participation from residents and local businesses.”


Horley residents ‘shocked’ by business park plan

19.10.2015 (BBC)

Gatwick South Terminal approach
The land earmarked for the business park is near Gatwick South Terminal

Residents and businesses have been left shocked by council plans to buy 170 acres of land for a business park.

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council has agreed in principle to use compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for the land off Balcombe Road, Horley.

“It was a very big shock. We are in a very bad state,” said Suresh Mara, manager of Jai Ho restaurant, which might be forced out.

The council said major international businesses wanted to move to the area.

Its executive discussed the business park and expressed its willingness to use CPO powers to buy the land on Thursday.

But, residents said they knew nothing about the plan in advance.

Mr Mara, whose business would be affected, said he did not know what was happening.

‘Commercially confidential’

“Nobody consulted us and suddenly we are getting this news,” he said.

“There are 15 or 16 staff whose families will be jeopardised.”

Green county councillor Jonathan Essex said the development would use up green space, which separated homes in Horley, Surrey from the West Sussex airport.

“Horley should be a separate town, not just part of the urban sprawl of Gatwick,” he said.

The local Jai Ho Indian restaurant could be affected by a Compulsory Purchase Order.
Conservative councillor Natalie Bramhall said information about the plans could not be made public previously because it was “commercially confidential”.

“Now we have made the decision we will be talking to and consulting with residents, employers and landowners who could potentially be affected,” she said.

“Attracting investment is really important in delivering economic benefits for the borough and jobs for residents.

“We have already had offers from major international businesses that want to move on to this site so we could be providing fantastic jobs for the local residents.”

Horley industrial park areaMap showing the location of the area to be compulsorily purchased, north of the M23 spur to the airport, and east of the railway line. 

Keep Horley Green
DEVELOPMENT: The area the proposed Horley business park could cover


Plans for huge Horley business park to go forward

26.10.2015 (Surrey Mirror)

RESIDENTS and firms who could be forced to relocate if plans for a Horley business park go ahead have been assured they would be treated “with understanding”.

The assurances were made by councillors before deciding to progress with the plan for the industrial estate in the south of the borough.

The Mirror reported last week how the borough council wants to develop an area the size of 85 football pitches between Horley and Gatwick Airport.

Councillor for Horley East, Graham Knight, wanted assurances that “residents of Horley East and Central who may be affected by compulsory purchase are consulted and treated with dignity and understanding”.

Horley Central representative, Councillor Allen Kay, added: “Here we’re dealing with humans and people who have been in their houses a long, long time.

“I ask and urge that this council talks to these people at an early stage and we make a fair offer for the land if we need it.”

Councillor Natalie Bramhall, who presented the report as executive member for regeneration, said: “[This is] a significant opportunity for this council to work in partnership with private and public sectors to bring forward a scheme in the south of the borough, which has the potential to substantially enhance the scope and extent of employment opportunities for the residents.”

She said compulsory purchase powers would be used as a “last resort”, and there were “owners of significant parts of the proposed development that would be keen to progress the project, however there remain landed and other interests that would be necessary to acquire or reach settlement on to enable the project to progress.”

Councillor Julian Ellacott, ward member for Redhill West, welcomed the proposal, saying: “We have a very highly skilled local workforce many tens of thousands of whom have to travel elsewhere, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that businesses would relocate here that would attract existing workers living in the borough.”

Councillor for Horley East Tony Schofield said: “I think it will help massively with the ongoing regeneration of Horley.”

The council’s executive committee agreed to enter a joint venture with a number of parties to bring the project forward.


Greens oppose Airport City Gatwick plans

I am supporting residents opposed to the construction of a 172-acre business park to the east of Horley.

Although I serve on both Surrey and Reigate and Banstead Councils, the first I heard about this was when the proposal for ‘Airport City Gatwick’ came to Reigate and Banstead’s Executive last week for agreement – you can read the paper here.

There is no need for a new business park in this area. There is very low unemployment in Horley and the wider Gatwick area [1].

Pressure on housing and transport

Creating new jobs here will mean bringing people in from outside the local area. Where will they all live? It will inevitably increase pressure for housing, when we’re already being forced to consider housing on the Green Belt near Redhill and Reigate. And it will increase commuter traffic on our already congested roads.

The proposed business park would seriously damage the local environment around Horley. It would join the built-up area of Horley with Gatwick Airport, meaning urban sprawl all the way from Horley to Crawley with no green buffer. I am concerned about the impact of Gatwick expansion on the local environment, but this, Reigate and Banstead Council say, could be built even if the airport is not expanded.

The site is within the ‘Rural Surrounds of Horley’, and partially within the ‘Gatwick Open Setting’ area – Gatwick’s own green belt – it should be protected.

Who benefits?

Reigate & Banstead Council talked of ‘economic benefits’ but the big winner appears to be Surrey County Council, not local residents.

Local residents told me that 42 acres of this land belongs to Surrey County Council [2]. The land is currently valued for farming, but as real estate its value could be as much as a million pounds an acre.

So it seems the economic benefits could be to Surrey County Council, who dropped their opposition to Gatwick expansion in 2013 [3].

The pressure to build this business park, and the value of the land, could be even greater if the government approves plans for Gatwick’s second runway, which would be built on part of Manor Royal industrial estate in Crawley.

So this looks like speculation on the possible expansion of Gatwick Airport.

At present this remains just a proposal – I will support residents opposing it.

Read more:

Keep Horley Green – Facebook campaign group


  1. Local labour market statistics
  2. According to local residents, 42 acres of the affected farmland to the west of the Balcombe Road belongs to Surrey County Council and around 30 acres to housebuilders Wimpey. I don’t know who owns the land on the east of Balcombe Road.
  3. Surrey County Council voted in July 2013 to no longer oppose Gatwick or Heathrow expansion, with a motion backed by Conservative Councillors. I proposed an amendment to this, acknowledging that any new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick would have seriously detrimental effects to many Surrey residents and the environment. This was not supported by Conservative Councillors, so was not adopted. See the motion and my amendment here




Keep Horley GreenHorley, Surrey



Say NO – Keep Horley Green by rejecting plans for the 172 acre business park in Horley

Why is this important?

Creating the 172 acre business park will mean wiping out green fields, businesses and a restaurant. Bayhorne Farm is a 72 acre farm – currently a well established and large Equestrian centre, the only one left in Horley and just one of the many green areas which will be destroyed and build on! If this plan goes ahead many people will lose their businesses, livelihoods, farm land, and homes. Not to mention the impact to the environment and wildlife!

Bayhorne Farm has been farmed by 6 generations of the Whittaker Family – due to recent developments it is now the last remaining SCC farmed land left in Horley.

Not only will the development plans create a substantial flood risk to the local area which is prone to flooding – it will be catastrophic to the large arrays of local wildlife who call the farm land and Bayhorne home, some of which are protected, such as, Badgers, Deers, Geese, Owls, Hedgehogs, Adders, many species of Birds, Bats, and other animals. Many of these animals return to Bayhorne EVERY year to the same areas of the farm.
We have also been contacted by neighbouring residents who said they have confirmed crested newts. The farm has a large quantity of Bluebells which are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The farm is also home to a listed building, and the land has an historical interest too.

The people of Horley have voiced their opinion – they do not want yet more developments, they want to preserve the very reason they love Horley – the countryside and its heritage – keeping the small town rural feel rather than bulldozing all of the green open spaces we have and replacing them with yet more concrete! Utilise the existing empty commercial spaces.

Help us to #KeepHorleyGreen and help us petition against these plans!

Find us on Facebook @ Keep Horley Green.



Keep Horley Green is a lively new group opposing plans for a 172 acre business park that would destroy green fields, farmland, homes businesses.

The proposal to be decided by Reigate and Banstead Council , for the ‘Joint Venture’, to turn the land into ’employment lands’ is evasive as so much is ‘commercially sensitive’. On the last page – a map and the project is called ‘Airport City Gatwick’
Keep Horley Green campaign web pages:


Facebook group