Above: A protest banner on a listed building opposite the SETyres site.
SETyres decision to renovate their branches in their new house style without planning permission has already caused controversy in the village. Some people have supported the changes, one commenting on Facebook "Yet again conservation would rather keep things the way they were to the point its an ugly eyesaw of a site sitting derelict rather than welcome the change." Others have been incensed by the unauthorised changes within the Henfield Conservation Area, saying that it encourages cowboy developers.
Above: Part of the re-cladded main building
SETyres has now responded to the enforcement action by Horsham District Council with a "Retrospective application for the installation of cladding of front and side elevations, installation of two roller shutter doors and four replacement uPVC windows in front elevation. Cladding of side elevation of car-wash".
Under the rules of the Henfield Conservation Area, alterations should respect the character and appearance of adjacent buildings in terms of scale, building materials used, windows etc. For instance, where cladding is applied, this cladding needs to be in a locally used material such as tile-hanging using local red clay tiles, or timber weatherboarding.
In 2016, SETyres told the Planning Inspector “SETyres do not intend to introduce an industrial structure typical of most of their other fast-fit centres. The new unit will be a bespoke building design more reminiscent of a Wealden barn in terms of its size, form, roofscape and choice of traditional materials. It will also compliment the rustic appearance and design of the old blacksmiths house opposite (The Old Bakery)” (see photo below).
In their planning submission, SETyres argue that the cladding of the main Setyres building should be regarded as a genuine attempt to upgrade and protect heritage, undertaken in such a way as not to harm character, appearance and setting.
Residents also object to the SETyres frontage onto the High Street being changed from a used car showroom and office into a very busy car parts distribution warehouse and depot. The company disputes the need for a change of use, stating that the two roller shutters are only to “provide access to tyre and exhaust fitting bays”.
Campaigners say that by flouting the planning laws SETyres avoid any mitigation proposals to cover, for instance noise from the machinery used in the 2 fast-fit tyre and exhaust work bays or to account for changes in traffic flow to and from the site which stands next to a bus stop.
The campaigners have responded with banner signs of their own which now adorn several of the listed buildings opposite the SETyres site. They have also distributed leaflets around the village.
Campaigners are keen to emphasise that the staff at the Henfield SETyres branch are simply doing their jobs – they have no influence over the situation.
If you wish to comment on the planning application, it is reference DC/19/1294. This reference must be quoted. Remember to include your name & address (although your name will not be published). The deadline is 23rd July 2019.
You can comment online here or e-mail email@example.com or write to Mr Giles Holbrook, Planning Department, Horsham District Council, Parkside, Chart Way, Horsham, RH12 1RL