Pensioner left shocked after homes refused

Hugh Baddeley outside his home in Church Street, Rudgwick
Hugh Baddeley outside his home in Church Street, Rudgwick

A PENSIONER from Rudgwick was left shocked last week after councillors rejected his planning application with little debate.

Hugh Baddeley of Church Street, Rudgwick, who has lived at Farn Brakes for 47 years, said he was left ‘puzzled and upset’ when Horsham District Council development control (north) committee refused his bid to replace his home with four three-bedroom houses and a four-bedroom house.

At the meeting on Tuesday May 1 Mr Baddeley, 82, who has seen houses built on ‘all four sides’ on the land around his home, told members what the plans meant to him.

He said: “Widowed for 12 years I now find my garden of three-quarters of an acre too large for me to manage and have therefore sought to downsize by asking developers whether they could help whilst ensuring that I remain here in a place I love and amongst my friends.

“They have designed a house in keeping with the surroundings and suitable for me as I grow older.

“I am puzzled by the recommendation for refusal as the proposed development is less intrusive that other developments allowed in the village or recommended for approval.

“I would ask that if you are inclined to accept the recommendation of your officers, you defer the decision until you have visited the site.

“I am convinced that if you visited the site, you would see that the development before you is in fact very low density and considerate to my neighbours.”

The report outlined objections from Rudgwick Parish Council, Rudgwick Preservation Society and the council had received six letters from people objecting on grounds including overdevelopment of the site, garden grabbing and loss of privacy.

Another questioned the need for a development of this type considering the housing allocated at Windacres Farm, which members delegated for approval before moving onto Mr Baddeley’s application.

Most applications have at least a short debate, but only the chairman Liz Kitchen (Con, Rusper and Colgate) and Duncan England (Con, Nuthurst) spoke on the matter.

Mr Baddeley’s local councillor John Bailey (Con, Rudgwick) was not there to speak about it and Mr England read out a statement on his behalf saying he supported the officer’s recommendation to refuse permission.

Members went on to vote unanimously against the plans, but Mr Baddeley felt disappointed Mr Bailey did not advise him earlier about it.

After the meeting he said: “It will go to appeal. I think the land is too much for me to cope with. The development is ideal. It’s suitable for elderly people and families.

“One thing that puzzled and upset me was that the planning officer and John Bailey were not prepared to have a meeting with me and my agents prior to the committee meeting on May 1.

“John Bailey is my representative on the district council and, as such, I would expect him to support or advise me on a contentious matter.”

Paul Addison, who helped develop the plans, added that Mr Bailey’s Windacres Farm development (see above) had higher density housing than Mr Baddeley’s application.

“One of the reasons we requested it to go to committee was because we wanted an open and transparent debate in an open forum,” he said.

An HDC spokesman said: “Although John Bailey was not in attendance at HDC’s Development Control (North) Committee for this item, his written statement was reported to the committee.

“There was also comment from the chairman of the committee on this item. There is, however, no requirement for members to speak on an application if they do not want to.

“Presumably they accepted the officer’s comments in the report as they accepted the recommendation and had nothing further to add.

“We are not able to comment on the reasons for why any member of the committee was absent.”

The decision will now be appealed.