Pease Pottage residents feel their views have been ignored after a bid to build 51 homes was granted on appeal.
People who have been helping draw up a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) since 2011 said they felt their time has been wasted after the development - which they objected to - was granted on appeal on May 26.
An NDP is a tool which allows local communities to create their own planning policies to control the way their area changes.
The Redrow plc development, off Black Swan Close, was objected to by Mid Sussex District Council and Crawley Borough Council on the grounds it would cause: a loss of wildlife and trees with tree preservation orders, an increase in congestion and a strain on infrastructure and amenities.
The site is a ‘strategic gap’ between Crawley and Pease Pottage and it was assigned as a ‘village space’ in Slaugham Parish Council’s NDP.
The NDP is still in the consultation period and will not be put in place until summer 2013 as it must undergo a full consultation and referendum. Until then, it does not bear weight on decisions made by local planning authorities.
Members of the Pease Pottage NDP Focus Group and the residents’ association have helped to draw up the NDP.
Kim Goodwin, chairman of the focus group, said residents had lost faith in the idea that they could have influence on their local area since the development was given permission.
She said: “We will have difficulty raising enthusiasm with our local people to carry on with the plan.”
Lesley Vail, from the residents’ association, said the application was allowed as it would help Mid Sussex to meet target housing numbers.
She said: “We feel all our work on the NDP has been a waste of our time and energy.
“If the Redrow development is allowed to go ahead does this not open up a big can of worm’s for strategic gaps in other areas both locally and across the country?”