A shock decision by the planning inspector saw 160 Henfield homes approved on appeal this week.
Horsham District Council (HDC) turned down Barratt Homes’ bid for the houses off West End Lane in late August 2013, but an appeal was launched by the developer the following month.
The Planning Inspectorate has ruled in favour of Barratt Homes just as a proposal for 72 homes, by separate developer Sandgate Nursery, also in West End Lane has been submitted to HDC.
Carol Eastwood, vice-chairman of Hands off Henfield, a local action group, said the inspector’s decision will have ‘devastating consequences’.
In light of an appeal to build 102 homes in Storrington being refused last week, Mrs Eastwood said it is ‘disappointing’ given the similarities between the two applications.
She said: “Both sites have a listed building in close proximity and the proposed developments are outside the built up boundaries in a semi rural setting. Both villages have the same lack of 5 year housing supply and neither has a railway station.”
In 2012, 102 homes east of Manor Close in Henfield was similarly granted on appeal to the dismay of residents.
Mrs Eastwood continued: “If the Sandgate Nurseries site is granted permission it is now almost certain that Henfield will have to suffer three sites being developed simultaneously to provide 334 houses, none of which are being built with the needs of the current population in mind.
“These new developments will seriously affect the heart of our village most particularly during the construction period.”
The Planning Inspectorate ruled that traffic increase would not be a concern as many facilities are within walking distance of the village.
The reports states: “There are public transport options for many journeys beyond the village.
“Most Henfield facilities are within reasonable and level walking distance of the appeal site.”
However, Horsham District Councillor for Henfield, Sheila Matthews, said the traffic situation in the village is currently ‘appalling’.
“Henfield has been badly let down by West Sussex County Council Highways Authority, who objected to this initially and then withdrew their objection.
“We’re at a bad level with parking. Although the inspector thinks the High Street economy will benefit, people can’t carry five to six bags of shopping home.”
Mrs Matthews also said that the inspector’s idea to widen pavements is ‘impossible’.
Mrs Eastwood added: “We will need to prepare ourselves for years of misery and traffic jams despite what the Highways Authority say about capacity in the road network.”
During the appeal it was argued that St Peter’s C Of E Primary School in Henfield is at capacity.
“The Primary school is already oversubscribed for September 2014,” said Mrs Eastwood. “So some residents who have lived here all their lives will have to send their children to Albourne, Jolesfield or Upper Beeding.”
The Planning Inspectorate report states that the Education Authority assesses capacity according to ‘groups of schools rather than individual schools.’
Mrs Matthews added: “The inspector said pupils could go to Pulborough, but he didn’t seem totally aware about the distance between these schools. There’s no common sense being applied to policies here - it’s beyond bewildering.”
The application has been granted approval subject to 23 conditions including design, landscape and highways.