An appeal hearing into a controversial Storrington development plan has been postponed due to floods.
The ongoing saga of proposals for 102 homes at Melton Drive saw the first day of the Planning Inspectorate’s investigation on Tuesday (January 7), attended by almost 30 village residents who stand against the development.
The appeal was lodged after Horsham District Council (HDC) unanimously refused the application in July 2013, and added an additional reason to oppose the plan the following November.
Five officials from Wates Developments were present to address matters on heritage, landscape, housing land supply and planning.
But HDC’s barrister David Lintott was unable to attend the meeting, held at Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre, as a result of severe flooding in the county, and the meeting was adjourned until February 18.
The planning inspector said that due to the absence of HDC’s barrister, the meeting will have to be postponed so all matters can be dealt with by the council.
However, Wates Developers and HDC agreed to make a start and look into some of the issues raised over the application, including infrastructure negotiations.
A spokesperson for Wates Developments said: “The council planned out contributions to its infrastructure, including library facilities, fire rescue service and health care, but there has been no agreement between the developers and the council leading up to the inquiry.
“Because we have not reached an agreement on education, the county council and district council thought it was best to take the matter out so we could make progress and execute the bilateral without the education contributions.
“Education has now been taken into a unilateral obligation between the developer and county council.”
The inspector said that the issue has ‘raised an unexpected obstacle to proceedings.’
The Wates Developments spokesperson added that they planned to meet with the education officer on Wednesday (January 8).
Also in attendance at the meeting were representatives of three action groups, ‘Save Our Storrington’, ‘Stop Storrington Sprawl’ and Campaign to Protect Rural England.
The inspectorate took note of all residents wishing to make a statement at the investigation, which also included Storrington and Sullington Parish Councillor Anna Worthington-Leese and Horsham District Councillor Ray Dawe.
The inspector made reference to 211 letters he had received and a petition of signatures from village residents, which he said will be taken into account.
Once the three day investigation is complete, the inspector said he will visit the site.
In July 2013, HDC voted unanimously to refuse planning permission on land north of South Wood, Melton Drive, amid fears of adding to the existing problem of air traffic pollution in the area.
The planning officer recommended refusal on the grounds that the build would impact on the landscape; has not provided an adequate highway solution; and it has not demonstrated that it would not exacerbate existing air quality problems.
The planning investigation will continue on February 18 - the meeting location is yet to be confirmed.