Sunset over the Downs, from the public viewpoint across the Sandy Lane field

For the fourth time in 2 years, Henfield residents will have to repel this unwanted application. The first planning application in 2019 was refused by Horsham District Council and the subsequent appeal was dismissed at a public inquiry in Horsham. Fairfax applied again in May 2020 and that application was also refused by Horsham District Council.

The company, which specialises in land acquisition and promotion, has now appealed that decision, exploiting the fact that the Horsham District Plan is due to expire in November, removing one of the main protections against speculative applications. A new Horsham Local Plan is not expected until 2022.

Henfield had hoped by now to have its own Neighbourhood Plan in place to provide protection. The Neighbourhood Plan passed final decision stage in December 2019 and now only needs to be approved by public referendum. However, the Government has postponed all referendums until May 2021 because of the pandemic, giving Fairfax a short window to try to push through their scheme.

Henfield Parish Council and CPRH have lobbied for a postal referendum on the Neighbourhood Plan to be allowed. The call was supported by local MP Andrew Griffith but the Government's new Chief Planning Officer recently ruled it out.

CPRH chairman, Phil Johnson, said:

"The community has made very clear that development is not wanted on this site. The appeal will be a critical test of whether the Government is genuinely committed to letting local people have a say over housebuilding in their area. If the Sandy Lane battle is lost because the referendum is delayed by the pandemic, no community will ever again spend time and effort producing a Neighbourhood Plan. The Government needs to intervene urgently to stop this nonsense."

The campaign group is now gearing up to fight the appeal which is likely to be heard next spring. CPRH will contact its supporters with details of how to object to the Fairfax application.

Full details of the appeal application are available on the Horsham Planning website.

Editor's Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the Campaign to Protect Rural Henfield and not necessarily those of Henfield Hub CIC.