Plan rejections are great result

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I write regarding Horsham District Council’s planning meeting and the decisions over 550 houses proposed for Billingshurst and 102 in Henfield.

‘Wow’ - what a day and what a great result for the villages of Billingshurst and Henfield.

I was stunned and extremely happy when the HDC planning committee members voted to reject the proposal for the 550 houses in Billingshurst - six members voted against with the balance (three) abstaining.

It should be noted that not one planning committee member voted in favour of this planning application.

Thank you to the three district councillors and the other members of the planning committee, who voted to reject the planning proposal. The district councillors and planning committee members, especially councillor Brian Donnelly, all spoke complete sense (I won’t say anything about the three who abstained, but at least they did not vote in favour!).

I would also like to thank Billingshurst Parish Council which has acted on behalf of the residents of Billingshurst and lodged strong objections against this planning application.

Both the objections presented by Susie Duffy and Roger Smith were equally good in their content and delivery.

Then, in the afternoon session, the HDC planning committee members voted to reject the planning application for 102 houses in Henfield, another stunning result for the village of Henfield.

The same objections were raised by the HDC planning committee members as those for the rejected development in Billingshurst.

I have to say that the comments made by the planning committee members who rejected the planning proposals at Billingshurst and Henfield were very clear and I hope that this sends a clear and concise message to all developers that HDC and the villages will not continue to tolerate the destruction of green fields and farmlands just to satisfy the greed of landowners and developers.

I feel that HDC planning committee grew a backbone that day; it would appear that they are no longer afraid of developers threatening appeals if they do not get their way and have their planning applications passed.

It was very encouraging to hear the HDC planning committee members stating that they should listen to and put the villagers’ views and requirements first, when considering these large scale developments in the villages.

The HDC planning committee members are to be highly commended for taking this stance today.

HDC should not just grant planning permission for schemes because it fears that the developer may go to appeal if its planning applications are refused. HDC needs to stand firm and if required defend its principles at appeal, even if there are costs involved.

It is far better to put the requirements and wishes of the local people first, instead of granting permission for these schemes because of some mythical housing requirement or to provide money to greedy landowners and developers.

I am pleased that common sense prevailed, maybe this is the start of a new era for HDC, after all the HDC planning committee did state that despite rumours it is NOT led by developers. I think its action proved that this statement is correct, let’s hope this new era continues.

I would like to think that HDC will pay a lot more attention to any infrastructure needs and issues in the review periods of all new developments of this kind. These should be included as part of the new development, not left as legacy issues to be provided at a later date by others.

HDC needs to give consideration for these large scale developments to be built in locations that already provide the necessary infrastructure and are truly sustainable, not in local villages that are incapable of coping with the infrastructure and requirements of such developments.

On behalf of SOSA, SBAG and HOPS I would like to thank the County Times for the fantastic support and news coverage that you have given to us.

I am sure that this has been one of the contributing factors in HDC’s decision and hopefully its change in policy going forward.

I am hoping that the decisions taken that day by the HDC planning committee will give renewed hope and encouragement to all SOSA members, who are currently involved fighting planning applications that are threatening to destroy their villages.

DAVID MOWLING

Chairman, Save our Sussex Alliance (SOSA), proud supporter of the 2011 West Sussex County Times campaign ‘It’s Just Plan Crazy’ and the National Trust and 38 Degrees petitions against the National Planning Policy Framework (www.saveoursussex.com), Coneyhurst Road, Billingshurst