Unpopular Henfield development dismissed at appeal again

An unpopular Henfield housing development has been dismissed at appeal again.

Friday, 20th August 2021, 12:30 pm
Proposed layout for latest housing scheme north of Sandy Lane, Henfield

Horsham District Council turned down plans by Fairfax Acquisitions to build 35 homes on land north of Sandy Lane in May last year.

A previous application for 42 dwellings on the same site was similarly refused by HDC in early 2019 and this decision was confirmed by a planning inspector.

The developer appealed against the second refusal, but a planning inspector has ruled in favour of the council again.

In an appeal decision published yesterday (Thursday August 19), inspector Robert Parker said: “Development of the appeal site would run contrary to community aspirations as expressed through the Henfield Neighbourhood Plan.

“To allow this appeal so soon after the neighbourhood plan is made would significantly undermine public trust and confidence in the planning system.”

He concurred with the previous inspector’s view of the site as having rural qualities that make a strong contribution to the setting of Henfield.

Although housing had been pushed to the western end of the site where the land is lower, he still believed the development ‘would read as a harmful extension of the built-up area into the countryside’.

He also noted the proposals would cause less than substantial harm to the settings of the Henfield Conservation Are and nearby listed buildings.

Heritage harm provided a ‘clear reason for refusing the application’ as the scheme did not benefit from the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Although concluding HDC could not demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, the inspector took into account the community’s stated willingness to find extra housing land as part of the emerging local plan to help meet increased need at a district level.

And although progress on the emerging local plan has stalled due to the revisions of the NPPF, Mr Parker felt there would be nothing to prevent an immediate review of the neighbourhood plan to consider future directions for growth. He added: “The availability of alternative, potentially less harmful, sites lends weight to my view that the harm to designated heritage assets in this case is not justified.”