Decision made on gypsy pitches in Rudgwick

Block plan of gypsy pitches in Rudgwick
Block plan of gypsy pitches in Rudgwick

Plans to set up an eight-pitch gypsy site in Rudgwick have been refused – but retrospective permission was given for four plots which are already being built on the land.

The applications, for a former nursery site in Naldretts Lane, which were considered by members of Horsham District Council’s planning committee north last Tuesday (October 1), attracted more than 50 objections between them.

Each pitch includes a mobile home, day room, and space for two vehicles.

Plans for four pitches on the site had been refused in 2014 but given the nod by inspectors on appeal. That permission was no longer valid, though, because what was being built did not match the designs which had been approved.

It was this point which caused concern for some councillors and members of the public, who asked why it seemed to be so difficult to enforce the conditions placed on applications.

Some were left speechless when they were told that, because the work already carried out did not match that which had been approved, the conditions relating to it could not be enforced.

Toni Bradnum (Con, Nuthurst & Lower Beeding) said it was ‘yet another example or people getting permission for one thing then doing something else’.

Adding that such behaviour was a ‘waste of everyone’s time’, she said: “They’ve moved on site and done as they liked.”

Planning officers, though, said this was ‘not a justifiable reason for refusal’.

A report to the committee added: “There remains a general need for gypsy pitches within the district and, as established in the earlier appeal, the site is in a sustainable location.

“It is considered, taking into account the previous appeal conclusions, that the scale of the development would not lead to any significant adverse impacts.”

Speaking for the applicant, agent Phil Rowe warned members that to refuse the application again would likely be seen as ‘unreasonal behaviour’ by the council and could result in full costs being awarded against the council.

Reluctantly in some cases, the committee approved the application.

The proposal for eight additional pitches did not go so well for the applicant.

Officers felt the site would ‘dominate’ the area and that not enough information had been provided to prove that the development would not harm protected species and their habitat.

Both the agent and Ruth Fletcher (Lib Dem, Denne) suggested that the application be deferred until more information could be provided, but members went ahead with the vote and it was refused.