CONTROVERSIAL plans to redevelop a historic house and grounds in the centre of Horndean have taken a dramatic U-turn.
Since the end of the Second World War, Crookley Park House has been the home of Blendworth Furnishings and employed local people in the fabric industry.
But earlier this year plans were unveiled to build up to 33 homes at Crookley Park and the possibility was mooted of the business moving.
The future of Crookley Park House – built by beer tycoon George Gale – was also in doubt.
But the director of Blendworth Furnishings, John Read, told The News it would be business as usual for the ‘foreseeable future’ and the housing plan was being downscaled.
The shop is in the house and this is not going to be developed, he said.
Mr Read said: ‘We don’t want to close the shop.
‘We are asking for planning permission outside, but we want to keep the shop as it is.
‘We have reduced the number of houses from 20-something to 12.
‘We are applying in the near future for planning permission without the house included.
‘It’s really for the benefit of the staff there.
‘Every other customer comes in and says they understand you are closing. It’s a bit demoralising.
‘We want to demonstrate to our customers that we will be there for the foreseeable future.’
A consultation was held at Horndean’s Napier Hall in July and concerns were raised about the density and location of the redevelopment.
Horndean district councillor Lynn Evans welcomed the changes.
She said: ‘It’s a welcome change of direction.
‘I shall look forward to seeing the revised application.
‘Everybody was quite concerned about the loss of employment.
‘If the shop and cafe are now to remain, that addresses some of that.
‘There’s a considerable amount of open space, lovely trees and I would like to see that being preserved.’
The fabric firm has been in operation since 1921 and was based in London’s West End before moving to Horndean after the war.
The house was built in the latter half of the 19th century on a former field of Myrtle Farm.
It was used as a base for soldiers during the Second World War.