Frustrated Billingshurst residents turned out in force to stop their ‘village from becoming a town’ by fighting plans for a new 510 home development.
The application for land east of the village was branded ‘ludicrous’ by the parish council which unanimously and emphatically voted against proposals during a meeting on Wednesday June 5.
Residents argued the plans are unsustainable and that the council ‘vehemently objects’ to the application.
But developers say the scheme will pour nearly £10million into community facilities for Billingshurst, a quarter of a million towards health services, £1million for a new primary school and creche and another £1million for secondary and sixth form places at the Weald.
In addition the consortium - made up of Bellway Homes, Devine Homes and Reside Developments - has pledged an undisclosed financial contribution towards youth facilities and plans to regenerate Jengers Mead shopping area.
Developers had originally submitted an application for 550 homes on August 17, 2011. This was rejected a year later.
On April 24 this year a new application for 510 homes was brought to the table.
However, the following month developers amended original proposals for 550 to match that of the new application. The Secretary of State has called in an appeal to be heard in October.
The consortium said a new application was submitted to further engage with the community.
“We have reduced the housing by ten per cent and increased the open space,” explained Tom Curtin, who represents the developers.
“Certainly there are numerous points of disagreement.
“I think the most important outcome is that the parish council has decided to have a meeting with the consortium and as well with Horsham District Council to discuss the issues.”
He said that an additional 1,000 residents will only benefit Billingshurt’s high street.
“We want to move forward by working with the community,” added Mr Curtin.
But locals are not convinced.
Parish council chairman Paul Berry claimed a rejuvenation of Jengers Mead is ‘a hollow promise’.
But the consortium says it is committed to discussing such plans with the council.
Resident Andrew Pearson said during the meeting: “A village is like a human body with lungs and kidneys and all these vital organs. You can only add on so much more tonnage before the village breaks down - and that’s what’s happening here.”
David Mowling, chairman of Save Billingshurst Action Group, commented: “Five hundred homes is potentially 1,000 cars - the traffic will be horrific. How any developer believes this could be a good thing for the village absolutely leaves me cold.”
He added it would turn a village into a town.
During the meeting the council presented 27 points of refusal - the same issues which were raised when the original 550 home application were discussed.
It explained each point with residents and voted on whether or not the new plans have satisfied them.
Locals and councillors agreed the latest application did not address the same problems raised in 2011.
Parish councillor Lesley Wilding concluded to the applause of others: “To me it’s just ludicrous. They’re trying to put an unsustainable 510 homes in a village that can’t sustain it.”
In a letter to Horsham District Council (HDC), Billingshurst Parish Council described the village as a ‘sitting duck for developers to remedy HDC’s five year housing land supply deficiency’.
It reads: “The parish council is deeply concerned that the failure by Horsham District Council to address its long term strategic housing needs has created a developer’s charter.
“Developers are picking off sites one by one outside the Built Up Area Boundary of Billingshurst under the Facilitating Appropriate Development policy.”
It adds: “Billingshurst Parish Council vehemently objects to this planning application.”