Villages are feeling under threat from circling developers in the Horsham district as the council has yet to put a 20-year plan in place.
Henfield is the latest village facing unwanted house building as Barratt Homes plans to submit plans for 160 further houses, on top of the 102 rejected by Horsham District Council and then overturned on appeal by the Government planning inspector in 2012.
The council was set to publish its draft Local Development Framework (LDF) in autumn last year, but decided to postpone the decision until the new year and appoint a planning consultant, Karen Moore, to assist with the process.
Due to illness Ms Moore was unable to discharge her duties and was replaced in January, but HDC has yet to produce a timetable setting out when the draft LDF, which will lay out where and how many houses will be built, will be approved and put out for consultation.
Strategic sites mooted include 3,500 homes west of Ifield, a new 10,000-home market town east of Henfield, 2,750 houses west of Southwater, 1,750 properties east of Billingshurst, and 4,500 dwellings north of Horsham.
In the group’s March newsletter David Moore, chairman of the Horsham Society, suggested that plans for the future of the district needed to be sensible.
He said: “We don’t want the unnecessary destruction of our countryside and we don’t want to finish up in a situation where Horsham and Crawley merge.
“What we do need is the creation of a new market town somewhere within Horsham district.”
Mayfield Market Towns floated the proposal to HDC’s strategic planning advisory group in June for 10,000 homes between Henfield and Sayers Common, which could comprise of one settlement, or five separate villages.
Lee Newlyn, a director at Mayfield, said: “Our plans for a New Market Town are progressing, we have been in communication with Horsham, Mid Sussex and Crawley Councils and have been working on revised plans.
“A new website has been launched at www.mayfieldtowns.co.uk where people can give us their feedback on plans so far, and of course our plans will eventually be the subject of a full public consultation.
“In the meantime we continue to try to work with the relevant local authorities through their Local Development Framework processes.”
However, Simon Andrews, chair of No West End Lane Development, set up to fight plans for 160 Barratt Homes in Henfield, said that Mayfield’s proposals had scared villagers, and the lack of a LDF in place was allowing housebuilders to develop with a lot less constraints.