150 homes approved for Billingshurst

PLANS for 150 homes off Marringdean Road, Billingshurst, have been approved by a government planning inspector.

A2 Dominion New Homes appealed against Horsham District Council’s refusal of the application , on land south of Groomsland Drive and Gillmans Industrial Estate.

An application for costs made against the council was refused.

In a written decision Inspector Paul Clark said: “I conclude that although the site lies outside the defined settlement boundary of Billingshurst and so its development would be contrary to local, regional and national policies for the protection of the countryside for its own sake, there is an overriding need for housing development in the Horsham district and for affordable housing in particular, to be constructed before the production of the revised Core Strategy, which this development would meet.

“With the conditions imposed it would have an acceptable effect on the character and appearance of the area and on the living conditions of neighbours.”

He said the council stated there would be a shortfall in its five year housing supply and recognised the need for additional land in the most sustainable locations ‘to ensure that the strategic requirements for the district were met’.

He said ‘demand for affordable housing in Horsham is acute’ and the level of all housing completions was 14 per cent against the council’s target of 40 per cent.

The fact local people commissioned a Housing Needs Survey Report was ‘an indication of the importance of the issue to local people’, he said.

The site was defined as ‘in a suitable location for housing development’ and decisions were to be made on a case by case basis.

It was within walking distance of the railway station and a convenience store, a park with play facilities and a day nursery and a bus service passed nearby. “There is also an industrial estate providing local employment,” the inspector said.

“Although the development would, by definition, change the character of the site from undeveloped semi-rural land to a developed area, the quantity of open space, the layout of the development and its architectural character would optimise the potential of the site,” he said.

“It would integrate with its surroundings and landscape in the way sought by the parish design statement and so maintain the landscape and townscape character of the local area.”

He said ‘planning obligations’ for necessary infrastructure were necessary for the development to be acceptable, with a condition securing a travel plan.

This was to cover residents’ concerns about highway capacity, school and healthcare capacity, drainage and water and electricity supplies.

The developer agreed to provide road safety markings and pedestrian facilities in Marringdean Road, shelters and passenger information at bus stops in Billingshurst, fire hydrants to serve the development and contributions towards the provision of a new fire station serving Horsham district and its hinterland.

It would contribute towards primary, secondary and sixth form education to serve the development; allotments at Manor Fields, Billingshurst; improvements to the Scout Hut in Lower Station Road Billingshurst; upgrading the existing Billingshurst Village Hall; the Eye Project for indoor facilities for the local area and for youth facilities; equipped play areas at Jubilee Fields and at Station Road, Billingshurst; the creation of a garden at Station Road, Billingshurst; and refuse and recycling facilities in the Horsham district.