Two separate schemes to redevelop a site at the heart of Horsham have been approved within days of each other.
Saxon Weald saw its revised application for 59 flats and seven homes, with 35 per cent affordable housing at Winterton Court, refused by Horsham District Council’s Planning Committee North last year.
The housing association appealed and a planning inspector overturned HDC’s decision and allowed the scheme last Friday (March 3).
Just days later Saxon Weald’s third application for the site, which was for 59 flats and six homes with changes to the appearance of the new buildings, was approved by members of the planning committee on Tuesday (March 7).
The housing association’s first application to demolish the vacant bungalows at Winterton Court and replace them with 65 flats and four homes, all for affordable housing, was refused by HDC back in April 2015.
Due to changes to Government policy, the scheme now only provides 35 per cent affordable housing.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Shiraz Rustom, one of the objectors, called on councillors to defer a decision for residents to fully digest the inspector’s appeal report, but described the third application as ‘better’ than the one approved on appeal.
He said: “It seems ridiculous to object to this one today in light of the appeal decision.”
Fellow objector Anna Burgess, who lives in New Street, argued that concerns about overdevelopment of a confined site with a restricted access in a densely populated area, remained.
She also raised issues around road safety, parking, privacy, and a lack of both places as nearby schools and doctors’ surgeries to cope with a large number of new residents.
But Mark Crosby, director of business development at Saxon Weald, explained how they had amended the design of the buildings following feedback from councillors and residents, adding: “This is now the best proposal that Saxon Weald can offer for the Winterton Court site and I very much hope you will choose to support it.”
One of three local members Josh Murphy (Con, Horsham Park) found it ‘really difficult’ on each of the three applications to balance the pros and cons, and while it was ‘right on the border’, the outcome of the appeal had made his decision a ‘bit easier’.
He added: “In light of the appeal I think it would be foolish to reject this application.”
Godfrey Newman (LDem, Forest), reading out comments on behalf of David Skipp (LDem, Horsham Park), said that West Sussex County Council’s highways department had not grasped road safety issues and had ‘brushed concerns under the carpet’.
Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater), cabinet member for planning and development, added: “It would be ridiculous for us to refuse this when the previous application has been approved on appeal.”
Several councillors questioned whether Saxon Weald would take forward the appeal scheme or the third version of the application.
Leonard Crosbie (LDem, Trafalgar) said: “I would be very surprised if they went and chose the appeal scheme.”
Officers explained that this decision would be totally up to the housing association.
Members approved the third application unanimously.
In his appeal decision, planning inspector Kenneth Stone said he was satisfied, given the variety of building heights, styles and designs, that the new development would not be out of keeping with the character of the area.
He concluded: “The proposed development would make acceptable provision for the living conditions of future residents and would not materially harm the character and appearance of the surrounding area.”
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