Around 80 residents packed out Storrington Village Hall on Wednesday December 10 to voice their opposition to the potential development of 150 new homes in the village.
Bovis Homes have declared an interest in two sites in Storrington, Bax Close and neighbouring Clay Lane, leaving residents facing a ‘David vs Goliath’ battle to prevent new homes being built.
It is believed the developers will propose about 43 new homes on the Bax Close site, with around 100 houses planned for Clay Lane.
Villagers have formed the action group ‘Stop Bovis Ruining Storrington’, and its members discussed the threat of house building at a public meeting.
A number of factors were cited as reasons to oppose development, including Storrington’s air pollution problem, traffic in the village and its current infrastructure.
Campaigner Michael Beck issued a rallying cry to those in attendance at the meeting.
He said: “We have to prove they are not going to win.
“They have done it this time of year now that it is Christmas and New Year, and we would not object - it is a strategy. They can’t just walk all over us.
“The reality is if anyone thinks we have done enough, we haven’t done anywhere near enough yet to stop Bovis coming in. It is David vs Goliath.”
The two greenfield sites are both visible to and from the South Downs National Park.
Residents were encouraged to sign a petition and donate funds to the campaign following the meeting.
Liz Orford, who lives near the targeted sites, explained that Bovis Homes have not bought the land, but it is under contract from the land owner.
She said: “Make no bones about it, they intend to get planning permission for Bax Close, and then using the same criteria getting planning permission for 100 more in Clay Lane.
“When I told my nine-year-old they were going to put a lot of houses there, he burst into tears.”
She added that she believes she has the backing of Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert.
She said: “They are planning this over the Christmas period, under the radar, and on the premise that they are only going for Bax Close.
“I think that we need to put a lot of pressure on our local councillors to understand the strength of feeling, and that if we are going to be part of this process and keep them in office, they need to listen to us.”
Another resident said he rued the day he moved from London to Storrington, due to the number of power cuts, insufficient infrastructure and air pollution affecting his asthma.
Mick Denness, chairman of Storrington Conservation Society, told residents how the parish council views the sites in relation to its local housing plan.
He said: “Clay Lane didn’t score highly enough to be included in the plan. As far as the parish council are concerned, that is out the window.
“However it is different for Bax Close. That is one of the sites the parish council want to see developed.
“What they did say is if there is enough public objection about any of the sites they would have a rethink.”
Bovis Homes previously held a public consultation on November 26.
Responding to concerns raised by residents, the developer said it was consulting on plans for land off Bax Close, but was not preparing any proposals for Clay Lane.
A spokesperson for Bovis Homes said: “We invited local residents to a public exhibition where we discussed our plans with around 150 people and took on board their comments and views, and we continue to receive useful feedback via our dedicated consultation website as we refine our proposals ahead of submission.
“We understand that some residents may not currently support the idea, but there is an acknowledged need for housing in the region and Storrington is identified by Horsham Borough Council as being capable of accommodating some expansion, infilling and redevelopment.
“New development will help meet the needs of West Sussex first-time buyers, families looking for more space or those stuck on council waiting lists, who will be pleased at the prospect of 45 new homes with a mix of two, three, four and five bedroom homes, with 40 per cent to be designated as affordable housing.
“Added to this, any proposals will include a financial contribution to the community to boost local infrastructure.
“We remain committed to consulting and working with local people to deliver this new part of the community, where we will look to retain existing green features wherever possible and use designs and materials in keeping with the area.”