Development by councillor allowed

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A DISTRICT councillor has received planning permission to build a sheltered housing development in Rudgwick despite removing affordable homes from the application.

After spending more than two years tailoring his plans to adhere to Horsham District Council’s planning policy, John Bailey (Con, Rudgwick) can go ahead with plans to demolish two homes and derelict buildings at Windacres Farm and build 36 homes, three office units, a community facility with a coffee shop and parish office and three sheds.

Earlier plans had also included provision for seven affordable homes on site, but because Rudgwick residents were not guaranteed to be housed there, Mr Bailey decided to delete them from his application.

At Tuesday’s HDC development control committee meeting, officers told members there was no requirement for affordable housing on this type of development and Mr Bailey’s plans show an area earmarked for development at a later date.

It comes shortly after developer Hillreed Homes Limited exposed a planning loophole by applying to build 14 homes in Billingshurst, whereas the requirement for including affordable homes starts at 15 homes.

In a statement to the committee, Rudgwick Parish Council said members were disappointed the affordable homes were no longer in the plans and hoped that ‘further provision may be given to its provision, under village control, at a later date’.

Other concerns raised included the use of a private drive which serves the farm, extra traffic from people using the coffee shop, loss of privacy and parking.

Neighbour Alison Newell, who lives at Windacres, had concern over the future use of Windacres Drive, which she and her husband own.

She told the committee, although the case officer had reassured them at meetings in November 2010 and October 2011, it was not ‘reflected in the numerous conditions recommended in the development management report to this meeting’.

After the meeting Mr Bailey told the County Times he was disappointed to have a plan with no affordable housing.

He said: “The reason they were taken out was because we couldn’t get agreement over local control and we don’t want them subject to housing association control. They put in whomever they like.

“I was going to give it as help for the village and the parish had expressed a wish for local control, but we couldn’t get agreement.

“I’m disappointed about it because I wanted to do it. I will see what I can do in the future.”

An HDC spokesman added: “It is a matter for the applicant as to what is included in their application.

“It is the role of Horsham District Council’s development control (north) committee to consider the details submitted.

“Paragraphs 1.5 and 3.3 of the officer’s report refers to this matter and makes clear that site specific policy for this site is set out in Horsham District Council’s Site Specific Allocations of Land policy AL9 (available on the council’s website

“There is no requirement within that policy for affordable housing on this site.”

Members decided to delegate plans to officers with a view to approval subject to the completion of legal agreements, financial contributions to improved footpaths on Church Street and appropriate control and management of the sheltered housing.