A councillor who owns a 440 acre farm south of Horsham says he will sell the area to developers if plans for 3,500 new homes are approved.
West Grinstead parish councillor Peter Kanabus owns a farm which developers Thakeham Homes have proposed building thousands of new houses on.
But this week councillor Kanabus resigned from the local planning committee citing a potential conflict of interest.
Late last year, housebuilders Thakeham Homes first revealed plans to build 3,500 houses in a new ‘garden community’ at West Grinstead.
The company says it is ‘consulting early’ on its plans which would include two new primary schools, a secondary school, shops, a pub and improvements to the Buck Barn junction of the A24 with a new roundabout and flyover.
But no planning applications or decisions have yet been made on any of the plans, which sparked a large public backlash.
At a West Grinstead Parish Council meeting on Thursday, January 16, chairman Olivia Izzard said councillors were first made aware of the developers’ proposal at a meeting in July last year.
She added: “The announcement caused a high degree of concern amongst fellow parish councillors and subsequently, advice was sought from the monitoring officer of Horsham District Council regarding councillor Kanabus’ continued status on the Parish Council.
“It was clear that no member of the Parish Council can be required to resign if the Councillor in question has declared a pecuniary interest and absents themselves whenever the planning matter is discussed, as is the case with councillor Peter Kanabus. Councillor Kanabus was made aware of fellow councillor concerns, and while deciding to remain as a member of the Parish Council, decided to resign from the planning committee in September 2019 and is currently not serving on any other planning committee.”
She said the council had written to Horsham District Council setting out why it believes Councillor Kanabus’ land should not be developed.
Councillor Izzard added: “Councillor Peter Kanabus has always been a hard-working member of the Parish Council and it is sad that this issue continues to overshadow our work within the community.
“We therefore ask parishioners for their support and understanding at this difficult time.”
Councillor Kanabus said his resignation was the ‘best thing to do.
He added: “It was just easiest to exclude myself completely from the planning committee.
“To avoid any potential conflicts or people thinking there were conflicts it’s better I stood down.”
He said he planned to move closer to London, where his wife had been undergoing cancer treatment, if the potential sale goes through.
Councillor Kanabus added: “We were probably going to leave anyway because my son who was going to take over the farm died of cancer several years ago and my other son doesn’t want to take over the farm.”
But he said he hopes infrastructure in the area will be boosted by the development.