Yesterday Horsham District Council’s chambers were the scene of joy as well anger as two major planning applications in Henfield and Billingshurst were decided.
Horsham District Council’s planning committee rejected 160 homes off West End Lane, Henfield, but granted permission for 475 homes east of the A272 in Billingshurst.
Before the meeting protesters waved their placards and chanted ‘Hands off Henfield’ outside the council offices with passing traffic honking their horns in support.
The council’s Development Control South Committee rejected Barratt Homes’ application for the Henfield houses on the grounds of overdevelopment in a rural location.
However while local members Adam Breacher, Gordon Lindsay and Kate Rowbottom (Con, Billingshurst) outlined the reasons they did not agree with the proposals for 475 homes in Billingshurst, they and others felt that they had no chance of defending the application if developers appealed the decision.
Mr Lindsay explained: “Although I do not support this application it would be foolish to refuse it.
“In the current circumstances agreeing the application is the least bad decision.”
Mrs Rowbottom added: “We will try and make this development as painless as possible and negotiate as many benefits for the village as we can.”
Henfield campaigners expressed their delight at the decision. Simon Andrews, leader of Hands off Henfield, said: “We are pleased to get a unanimous decision from the council. Obviously it’s a battle that’s been won and not the war.
“We anticipate the developers will appeal. However it could be us that sets the precedent and wins an appeal.”
However David Mowling, leader of Save Billingshurst Action Group, said he was ‘devastated’ by the decision.
He said: “I’m very disappointed with Horsham District Council and the vote and I think it will be a big problem for Billingshurst.”
He thought that the blame lay squarely with the council, as he said they had not produced a workable draft plan in a timely manner, and made a mockery of their current strategy, which was published for public consultation last Friday.
For a full report on the 475 homes in Billingshurst see tomorrow’s County Times, and for reaction and report of the 160 Henfield homes see tomorrow’s County Times South Downs edition.