Storrington residents raise a glass to housing appeal refusal

Storrington Group Melton Drive Celebration SUS-140206-114925001
Storrington Group Melton Drive Celebration SUS-140206-114925001

Celebrations have broken out amongst neighbours and councillors after a developer’s appeal to build 102 homes in Storrington was refused last week.

Melton Drive resident, Howard Brunt, said the planning inspectorate’s decision to dismiss Wates Developments’ appeal was a ‘considerable relief’ and that future attempts by a developer to ‘bulldoze’ through an application ‘against the democratic process is absolutely wrong’.

Mr Brunt said: “It is most heartening that the Planning Inspector dismissed the appeal by Wates.

“It is a success for the people who collectively campaigned against the proposed development, which was out of place and clearly unsustainable in the eyes of the parish council, the district council and the local community.

“As a matter of principle as much as anything is the fact that the loophole allowing those, simply with a view to profit, to bulldoze a project such as this against the democratic process is absolutely wrong and should be resisted under all circumstances.”

Wates Developments launched the appeal against Horsham District Council (HDC) after it refused their application to build 102 homes on a greenfield site by Melton Drive, Storrington, in July 2013.

The Planning Inspectorate’s investigation took place over six days between January 7 and March 17 2014.

A panel representing Wates Developments and a panel representing HDC was present. Councillors and residents applied to speak during the investigation, which was followed up with an on-site visit by the Planning Inspectorate.

Although the inspectorate did not feel that air pollution would greatly affect the ecological interests and living conditions of residents, he stated in the report that ‘a degree of harm to the character and appearance of the surrounding area would arise from the excessive density of the appeal scheme’.

Labelling the plan ‘unsustainable’ the inspectorate concluded that ‘the adverse impacts of granting planning permission in this case significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits’.

County councillor for Storrington and HDC chairman, Philip Circus, said that the closure of Mill Stream Medical Centre last week was just proof that the village did not have the infrastructure to support more developments.

He said: “This is excellent news, not least because if the inspector had allowed the appeal we would all wonder what was the point of local government.

“The proposed development would have been even more unsustainable than we knew at the time of our decision, given the recent closure of the Mill Stream Medical Practice.”

However, district councillor Roger Arthur said that fighting developments like this in the district would continue.

He said: “The inspector continues to be focussed predominantly on the fact that Horsham district is behind an unattainable 20 year housing target of 650 per annum.

“So whilst we may celebrate this particular decision, the campaign to avoid indiscriminate and speculative development, is far from over.”