Development on old surgery site refused

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Residents have won a second battle over plans to develop the site of a former doctor’s surgery in West Green.

On Monday (November 25) Crawley Borough Council development control committee refused permission for 12 homes to be built on the old surgery site in Ifield Road.

This was contrary to the advice from officers who said it met the council’s planning standards and was an improvement earlier application for 13 homes.

Residents and local members Cllr Bill Ward and Cllr Vanessa Cumper made their cases against the plans.

John Cossey, who lives next to the site, was speaking on behalf of all the residents. He said: “I don’t think a lot’s changed since the first application.

“There are 115 people on our petition. Due to the overcrowding, parking on this site will be inadequate and it will force all parking for visitors on Ifield Road, which is a blind bend.”

The previous application in April this year was refused on the grounds it was cramped, there was substandard external amenity space, it would be unsafe for pedestrians and road users and there was a lack of infrastructure provision. It is currently going through the appeal process.

Cllr Cumper (Con, West Green) said: “I don’t actually think the problems with the previous refusal have been addressed.

“There has been a petition which has 115 signatures. It’s not enough for us to have a debate, but we should listen to the residents in that area.

“We ask for a better development to come through because 12 properties is still squeezing far too many in.”

Cllr Ward questioned whether the nearby services, in particular the school, would be able to cater for more people.

He said: “West Green School was cut in half 25 years ago and the playing field was seen as surplus to requirements. Anyone who comes into this development will not be able to get a place at West Green.

“We’ve lost our post office, community centre and we’ve lost a lot from Crawley Hospital.”

Chief planning officer Jean McPherson told the committee officers felt it was in a sustainable location and had overcome the previous reasons for refusal.

John Escott, an agent for Ashcroft Homes and Southern Ltd, told the committee: “The application has been assessed against you policies and core strategy and all relevant policies in the local plan. There are no feasible planning reasons (to refuse it).

“The site is in a sustainable location, near to the town centre and there are community and other facilities within a reasonable area.

“I am sure members will know there’s a direction of travel towards making the best use of land because that help minimise building on green space.”

Members decided to support residents and refuse the plans on the grounds it was over development of the site. They shared the concerns about the safety of the road, but could not used it as a reason for a refusal because West Sussex County Council Highways deemed the new plans safe.

Ashcroft Homes and Southern Ltd are expected to appeal the decision.