Communities should be given the power to appeal against planning decisions, Lindfield campaigners have urged.
The village’s preservation society has described being ‘deeply concerned’ at the accelerated pace of speculative developments across the district in an open letter to Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames.
A Government appointed planning inspector Jonathan Bore has increased a Mid Sussex District Council-set housing target from 800 to 1,026 homes a year, causing public outcry.
In response the Middy has launched ‘Keep Mid Sussex Green’ backing the fight for fair and sustainable levels of development.
Without an up-to-date plan in place the district council has either been losing planning appeals or forced to approve applications that run contrary to neighbourhood plans such as 130 homes on the corner of Scamps Hill and Gravelye Lane in Lindfield.
Gil Kennedy, chairman of Lindfield Preservation Society, and John Jesson, chairman of its planning sub-committee, argued that the fundamental cause for the current situation was central Government planning policy.
The letter suggested that ‘turning developers loose to do largely as they please has clearly failed’, as legislation allows them to accumulative planning permissions increasing the land’s value.
They added: “Their exploitative business model, enabled and abetted by Government policy, is the root of our problems - not the tired mantra that the planning system is too onerous. Lindfield is an unfortunate and unwilling example of this trend.”
The letter said the recent White Paper on housing ‘offers no real solutions’ and instead offered a three-pronged approach: requiring developers to use up all existing planning permissions before any new ones are granted, uncoupling the determination of planning applications from the question of a five-year land supply, and giving communities the right of appeal against planning decisions.
Meanwhile Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common Parish Council is the latest to support Keep Mid Sussex Green as it shared the ‘widespread disbelief and concern at the totally unrealistic number of new houses being imposed on the district by the examiner’.
Chairman Stephen Hand explained how their neighbourhood plan increased the size of the parish’s villages by several hundred new houses after a ‘huge amount of work and far reaching consultation’ in a genuine attempt to balance the need for new housing with the preservation of the rural environment.
He added: “The new houses are now being delivered at no small cost to village residents affected by the developments.
“Our roads, car parks, schools, and surgeries are now full and there is no further capacity to absorb the additional numbers imposed by Mr Bore. The examiner’s conclusion is not only high handed in respect of local people it also contradicts recent government policy and ministerial statements that neighbourhood plans should be taken onto account in all planning decisions.”
A planning appeal for 73 homes south of Burgess Hill’s Folders Lane began on Tuesday (March 14) and is due to be the latest battleground in the fight to stop unwanted development in Mid Sussex.
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