Affordable homes cause farm development delay

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PROVIDING affordable homes when there was no requirement to was one issue that led to delays in dealing with a 43-home development at Windacres Farm in Rudgwick.

But Horsham District Council’s planners finally delegated the scheme with a view to approval subject to conditions being met regarding access, footpath links and a legal agreement regarding infrastructure and provision of affordable homes at a meeting on Tuesday.

District councillor John Bailey (Con, Rudgwick) applied to redevelop the farm site, demolishing two dwellings, derelict farm buildings and workshops and building 43 homes, parking barns, office units, shed units, a community facility and extending an existing industrial unit.

Andrew Smith, council housing strategy and development manager, said the applicant wanted to set up a Community Infrastructure Company, providing maximum control to the Rudgwick community, to look after the seven affordable homes on the site, so the homes were for local people in perpetuity.

“It is an ironic sadness that affordable housing is the stumbling block when it is something for the village,” he said.

John Newell, of Windacres House, raised the issue of his single, narrow drive, which the applicant had right of way over and would be used by articulated lorries while work was in progress.

He wanted the new access road to be built before any work happened.

Roger Nash, of Rudgwick Preservation Society, said the society objected but recognised the development would go ahead and was pleased there was to be some affordable housing. He complained of a lack of consultation, that the report ‘glosses over the use of the community building’ and further work should be done to ensure the large building would have viable tenants and said there was no call for a footpath ‘assumed to be a benefit’.

Agent Malcolm Williamson said Mr Bailey decided to include affordable housing, which had led to much discussion and difficulties in bringing the plan forward.

“There is strong feeling the housing should be under the control of the Rudgwick community,” he said. “A CIC is the only way that will happen.”

One Rudgwick resident of 35 years said he had raised five children in the village and he wanted his two daughters still at home to be able to afford to buy a home in the village.

“The development is wanted because a lot of members of the community feel their youngsters are leaving the village and would rather stay,” he said.

Matthew Leong, of Cranleigh, attended a parish council meeting when the vote was ‘overwhelmingly’ in support and he said he particularly liked the provision of affordable homes under local control, for local people.

Dr David Holmes (LDem, Trafalgar) said the delay and lack of consultation over the application was ‘regretable’, conditions needed to be included to deal with Mr Newell’s concerns and the unrequired footpath needed to be addressed. Ian Howard (Con, Southwater) said it was interesting that the main ‘arguing point seems to be running the affordable housing yet it doesn’t need to be there’.

Godfrey Newman (LDem, Forest) said building the affordable homes away from the rest of the development was ‘ghettoesque’. “It infuriates me,” he said.