The proposal to build 42 houses on a farmer’s field outside the village of Henfield was rejected by the government’s inspector after a 4-day long public inquiry held in Horsham in August.
Phil Johnson, Chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural Henfield (CPRH) said “We were waiting with bated breath for the decision, so much hangs on it. People were concerned that it would open the door to a flood of development in our countryside.
“We recognise that more houses are needed but we want them built in the right place. This wasn’t it.”
Local residents greeted the decision with a mixture of relief and joy. Steve Bailey, who lives adjacent to the threatened field, said “It is so uplifting to look out at the South Downs and know that those amazing countryside views will still be there tomorrow.”
Jilly Wallis, who recently moved into one of the Grade 2 listed cottages adjacent to the field, had argued that the setting of the cottages would be damaged by the new development. “I’m delighted that that the heritage of the area will now be preserved so that it can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike”.
Another campaigner, Julie Mitchell felt it is wrong that lay people should have to wrestle with all the complexities of the planning process. “It has been a long fight. People shouldn’t have to go through this torture just to protect a beautiful part of our countryside”.
Mr. Nick Herbert, who as MP for Arundel & South Downs had actively supported the community efforts, agreed saying “I was so pleased that local people won this, and was delighted to support their campaign. Too often neighbourhood plans have been undermined by developers, not least in Henfield, so it was great that the community came together to fight their corner so successfully in this case.”
Mr Johnson thanked the many people from all over Henfield and beyond who helped and funded the campaign. “It was a true community effort and everyone can feel proud of what they achieved”.