A major residental development on land at Rotherlea in Petworth was approved last night, despite concerns the design did not comply with Petworth’s neighbourhood plan.
Plans for 34 new homes on the site exceed the density of 23 homes envisaged in the plan but include only 57 of the 68.5 car parking spaces requested for the rural location and include three-storey homes.
Addressing Thursday’s meeting of the South Downs National Park Authority’s planning committee, town council chairman Chris Kemp said the development was ‘unacceptable’.
He said: “If you allow the violation of the neighbourhood plan, it opens the floodgates to the developers on the rest of the available land and it endagers the whole purpose of having a neighbourhood plan.”
Two other Petworth residents also warned the meeting the homes would worsen an already difficult parking situation in a rural area dependant on road transport and voiced concerns as to the impact of the three-storey homes that would overlook theirs.
But members of the committee sided eight to two with planning officers’ recommendation to approve the development on the basis it was ‘broadly’ in line with the neighbourhood plan and maximum use of land was encouraged in government policy.
Development manager Rob Ainslie told the committee the planning inspector’s report on the neighbourhood plan had stated a higher number of dwellings on the site could be acceptable depending on design, given the homes could be smaller.
He added that county highways had made no objection on the basis of road safety.
Committee member Heather Baker countered that in her experience the roads around the site were always busy and more homes with insufficient parking, even taking eight spaces from use elsewhere, would ‘exacerbate’ the problem.
She said: “I’m a bitterly disappointed that county highways cannot look at this sort of application in a different light and cannot go and tramp the streets and see what’s actually happening.
“I know perfectly well, because I live quite close to Petworth, just how busy this whole area of housing is.”
Support for the town council also came from Roger Huxstep, who said the housing was not what the ‘good people of Petworth’ voted for, particularly with respect to parking, which was an ‘immense’ problem in his own ward.
He echoed residents’ request to reduce the density of the site and the size of the tallest buildings to two-storeys rather than three.
Fellow committee member Anthony Watts Williams said parking was always an issue but new residents would be able to walk ‘quite easily into the town centre’.
The motion to approve the plan (SDNP/15/01862/FUL) was carried eight votes to two, with one abstension.