CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 575 homes in Southwater, backed by the parish council chairman, have sparked outrage among local residents.
Almost 100 people gathered at the extraordinary Southwater Parish Council meeting on Wednesday last week to voice their anger over the proposed development.
Plans, which could see homes built on land to the west of Worthing Road, was voted against six to two by parish councillors.
But, with the final decision to be made by Horsham District Council (HDC), this meeting took place as a means of ‘gauging residents’ views and opinions’.
Speaking at the meeting on behalf of the Keep Southwater Green group, Polly Purton explained how ‘the vast majority of residents are firmly opposed to the planned housing development’.
“There have been several attempts to establish what the village thinks about this issue over the last two years. One of which was in spring 2010, when a petition obtained well over 4,000 signatures.
“Despite previous attempts, a massive 94 per cent of all who voted during the consultation said they were opposed to large scale planned development. Only 105 people voted in favour.’’
Addressing the meeting she said: “You must oppose it. No other position is remotely credible or democratic.”
However Tony Bull, chairman of Southwater Parish Council, attacked Polly’s claims saying: “Their petition produced 4,000 signatures, but when this was analysed only 2,375 were registered electors within the village, out of a total of some 7,300.
“I think it would be true to say that if any resident of Southwater was asked the simple question of whether they wished to see any further development taking place in the parish, the answer would be a resounding no.
“Unfortunately the situation we are faced with, in relation to the West of Southwater scheme, is not that simple.
“The vast majority of people living in the village are in properties less than 30 years old. Where would you be now if these properties were never built?
“In the knowledge that we are already facing a sizeable housing shortage within the Horsham district, and that we are a category one settlement, it is inevitable, in my opinion, that the scheme for 575 houses will go ahead, either on approval by HDC or, failing that, on a subsequent appeal.
“We must play our part in helping to resolve the national shortage of housing stock, bearing in mind very few of us would have been here this evening had our predecessors refused development at that time.”
The chairman’s comments sparked anger from ‘passionate’ residents.
Vanessa Long, of Fletchers Road, said: “This really upsets me. I’m going to lose the beautiful greenery my garden backs onto.
“I moved from Brighton four years ago to live in a village, not a town. Precious greenery is being destroyed and it is no longer a village, and it may force me to move out.
“Why are we building on a village where the services already struggle to meet the demands of residents. God forbid if I ever get ill.”
Linda Bacon, of Worthing Road, said: “I love this village passionately. Here in Sussex we have an especially wonderful native environment, filled with wildlife I see everyday, and this needs to be protected. Once it’s gone we can’t make new wildlife.”
HDC meets to discuss the development on June 14.
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