Village field near ancient wood saved by planners

A CONTROVERSIAL development planned for a Billingshurst field which would impact an ancient woodland has been rejected following massive protests from residents and councillors.

Thursday, 22nd March 2012, 3:06 pm

Plans to build 49 homes at the end of Daux Avenue and the East of Rosier Way have been refused, despite a reduction of six homes from the original planning proposal of 55 homes which was refused in 2010 and subsequently dismissed at appeal.

The original proposal was objected to on the basis that the height of the apartment block was too high and a loss of the ancient woodland to the south of the development, Rosier Wood, was not acceptable.

The new proposal differs from the previous by moving the development further away from the ancient woodland to the south of the site with a 15 metre buffer immediately off the southern boundary.

The apartment block was also reduced to two storeys as opposed, rather than three, but this did not deter councillors who said that the proposal would cause significant material harm to the landscape and visual character of the area.

It was also argued that improvements of infrastructure, education provision, fire and rescue services, and community facilities would be needed for this development to gain the council’s blessing.

The proposed development includes detached and semi detached dwellings, one apartment block and 80 parking spaces provided through garages, drive ways and parking bays.

Seven residents voiced their concerns at the HDC meeting on Tuesday March 20 alongside Billingshurst Parish Council which argued that it was an ‘overdevelopment’.

138 letters of objection were received by the Parish Council raising issues like loss of privacy, inadequate water supply, adverse ecological impact, and a lack of adequate infrastructure to serve the development.

The statement said: “The development is out of character with existing local properties which seem to comprise wholly of bungalows especially as the plan includes four storey apartments and parking for 80 extra cars thus adding further pressure on this residential area of narrow Victorian streets.”

Adam Breacher (Con, Billingshurst) said that the development would inevitably lead to an increase in traffic which would be particularly noticeable around the railway station where the road acts as a ‘bottleneck’ for traffic.

Mr Breacher also pointed out parking spaces available at Billingshurst railway station are already limited and this development will exacerbate the situation.

Linda Tullett, a Billingshurst resident, drew attention to the proposed one way system for the houses with an entry through Daux Avenue and exit through Daux Road, flagging the fact that Daux Avenue is signed ‘unsuitable’ for heavy goods vehicles.

Susie Duffy, a Billingshurst resident at the HDC meeting said that it was ‘very disappointing’ that the general public and the council had been ‘dragged back’ to consider a site which was ‘so robustly dismissed ‘ last year.

She said: “I understand that The Woodland Trust rarely files objection against applications of this size, due to their limited resources, but they felt that the protection of both the Ancient Woodland and the hedgerows within the site merited this objection, and this has been raised in full awareness of the increased buffer zone in the new scheme.”