A development for 46 houses on land neighbouring ancient woodland in Marringdean Road, Billingshurst, has been refused planning permission.
The Horsham District Council development control committee south heard a plan for four apartments and 42 houses next to Daux Wood would deliver 40 per cent affordable housing, but was considered a countryside location outside the boundary of the village and would cause 82 trees to be felled.
Christopher Hough, speaking for developer Rydon Homes, said: “Billingshurst is a sustainable settlement. It’s a sustainable development, it’s close to the village centre, railway station and employment and schools.”
He added the scheme was ‘very careful to protect the ancient woodland’.
But councillors disagreed. Roger Arthur (UKIP, Chanctonbury) said: “I think this highlights the need to allow time for local and neighbourhood place to be completed. It’s a premature application and it would cause demonstrable harm to the local area.”
Adam Breacher (Con, Billingshurst and Shipley) said: “I cannot conceive why people would like to build houses here. It’s a total disregard to the impact this would have on the woodland.”
Fellow local member Gordon Lindsay said: “This is not sustainable. From the last census there was an increase from 66 per cent to 70 per cent of people travelling to work by car rather by other means.”
The committee voted unanimously against the plans.
Menwhile residents against development on countryside in Billingshurst have praised the district council for its decision.
Chairman of the Save Billingshurst Action Group David Mowling said: “We’re delighted that Horsham are backing us in refusing this application. We have been campaigning for many years to keep Billingshurst free from massive development. We are not against development that’s required in general. This massive development is not good for the village. The services, infrastructure cannot support them.
But there are fears of what will happen if developer Rydon Homes Ltd decided to take it to appeal.
Mr Mowling said: “The planning inspector will say ‘my Government’s saying it should be approved’. They had this big push for localism and then they absolutely categorical don’t listen.
“Francis Maude MP has got to come off the fence and needs to tell the Government that villages like Billingshurst won’t have this. If the Conservatives don’t get a grip on this, they will lose support. There are other parties who are more sensitive.”