History of the Site
The site once formed part of the former Wimblehurst estate and was purchased by the Swiss pharmaceutical company CIBA in the mid-1930s. The main headquarters building, with its tall central tower facing Wimblehurst Road, was built in 1938.
Pharmaceutical production started at the site in 1939 and continued throughout the war. Several office buildings, laboratories and workshops were added over the years. CIBA later became Novartis, through a merger with Sandoz in 1996. Research operations ceased in the summer of 2014 and the site closed later that year.
Site Secured for Future Use
In December 2016, the site was acquired by West Sussex County Council. The key driver for the Council’s investment in the acquisition was to build on the site’s long-established position as a major centre for high-value employment in Horsham.
The Council arranged a programme of information events for members of the local community in 2018, presenting draft proposals for a mixed-use development on the site. Event attendees were invited to submit feedback, which informed the preparation of a revised masterplan for the site. An outline planning application was submitted to Horsham District Council in 2018 and members resolved to grant planning permission during a meeting of the full Council in October 2019.
The plans will see the creation of 300 new homes in a variety of tenures and up to 25,000 square metres of employment space. Over 600 square metres of community space has also been included in the plans.
Some of the land that was once owned by Novartis, and formerly used for staff car parking and sports and social activities, has already been developed for residential use by Linden Homes. This site is directly to the north of the Horsham Enterprise Park site and does not form part of this project.
What happens next?
West Sussex County Council started a public procurement process in July 2020, to identify a suitable development partner, and this process is well underway. The successful development partner should be confirmed in the early part of 2021. In the meantime, the vacant site is currently managed by security staff.
In order to ensure that development can begin as soon as possible, some initial work will be undertaken to prepare the site for construction, protect any landscaping and buildings that will be retained, and conduct additional surveys.
If you would like to be kept informed about the progress of the development, you can register for updates.