Councillors have refused a 75 home bid despite the risk of an appeal and fines incurred by the planning inspectorate.
A development planning meeting on Tuesday (January 22) saw Horsham District Council members fight to stop a Storrington development application in the face of planning officers’ warnings.
Philip Circus (Con Chanctonbury) said: “There’s always the risk that we should cause an appeal. I can understand the concern of officers, they’re doing their job. To allow this application flies in the face of common sense.”
Neil Kelly’s outline to build 75 homes on land north of Brook Close and Rother Close in Storrington, with an access point from Water Lane, was deferred in December 2013 because Mr Circus claimed the Highways Authority’s survey is just a ‘box ticking’ exercise and does not reflect their actual concerns.
Mr Circus said: “The reason the decision was deferred was not, with respect, because members requested for clarification. There was no reason to defer.
“The Highways Authority does not feel able to levy a formal objection against its guidelines, but this does not mean it’s a ringing endorsement from the County Highways.”
Planning officers said councillors’ reasons were not ‘good enough’ to refuse the bid, and HDC could risk incurring a substantial fine by the planning inspectorate for delaying the process.
Roger Arthur (UKIP: Chanctonbury) listed five reasons to refuse the application, including ‘prematurity’, ‘local benefit’, ‘sustainability’, environmental quality’ and ‘flooding and environmental health risk’.
He said: “Unfortunately, the history of Water Lane gives no confidence that Southern Water has the environmental health hazard under control.
“Southern Water’s solution of sending out tankers to remove sewage is not sustainable and their technicians have apparently admitted that the drainage system in this part of Storrington is completely overloaded.”
Diana van der Klugt (Con: Chantry) read a statement on behalf of Ray Dawe (Con: Chantry) that said the recent bouts of flooding in Storrington will be worsened by the new development.
However, a planning officer said the flooding is a pre-existing issue in the area and the development would not exacerbate the situation.
Mr Circus added that the applicant’s suggestion of a bicycle per household to help with the village’s air traffic pollution issue has caught the attention of Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert.
He said: “Developers have come up with some answers to the cumulative effect, including provision of one new bicycle per household.
“We had a meeting with Nick Herbert and he found it so ridiculous that this was an answer to air quality issues that he is going to bring this up in the House of Commons and take it up with the minister.”
Claire Vickers (Con: Southwater) said: “We’re between a rock and a hard place. The reality is when it comes to appeal if they have no objection then we’re not the ones that can override it.”
It was agreed that the application is to be ‘refused under CP1 (countryside policy) contrary to council policies’.
After the meeting, ‘Fighting For Our Fields’ member and Water Lane resident Alistair Hopper said: “It’s a victory for common sense.”