We learned this morning that the Planning Case Officer at Horsham District Council has refused the planning application by Fairfax Acquisitions to build on the green field site adjacent to Sandy Lane and Dropping Holms.

This is marvellous news for everyone who wants to protect the rural setting and heritage of our village. Our heartfelt thanks go to everyone who has displayed our campaign posters in their gardens and windows, and all the 350 or so people who lodged objections to the proposal. It was a tremendous effort by the community and one we are very proud of.

The principal reasons given for the refusal were:

  • The proposed development would be located in the countryside, outside of a defined built-up area boundary, and on a site that is not allocated for development within the Horsham District Planning Framework, or a made Neighbourhood Plan.
  • The extent of the proposed development would result in an unacceptably urbanising influence within this countryside location, which fails to protect or enhance the landscape character and townscape setting of Henfield and Nep Town.
  • The proposed development would erode the remaining rural setting to the Henfield Conservation Area and the adjacent listed buildings at Old Mill house, Wisteria Cottage and Rosemount Cottage to the detriment of their historic character and setting.

It was not entirely good news though as there were some disappointments in the Planning Officer's report:

  • Despite the huge volume of public concern about road traffic along Nep Town Road and safety on the blind corner between Mill End and Dropping Holms, the Council accepted the expert advice from the WSCC Highways Officer that the problems could be overcome by painting some double yellow lines and cutting down 'vegetation'.
  • Similarly the problems of flooding caused by surface water-run off - well documented in our videos - were dismissed because the land is porous and the water will be soaked up by a "grassed landscaped depression".
  • And no special protection was felt to be needed for the magnificent oaks on the southern ridge.

We would want to take issue with all these points if a future application were ever to be made.

We recognise that this reprieve may only be temporary. Fairfax Acquisitions now have 6 months to appeal the decision. As they boast on their website: "We certainly don’t see a refusal as being the end of the road. In fact far from it. Our land team are extremely knowledgeable of the appeals process and have a respected record of overturning decisions and achieving permissions from the government’s independent Planning Inspectorate."

So we expect the fight to continue and we will be making preparations to protect both the Sandy Lane field and other cherished locations around Henfield. In the meantime, our community can continue to enjoy the stunning sunsets over Chanctonbury like the recent one pictured above.

Over the next few days we will be taking down the various campaign posters and placards around the village. We aim to store those that are in good condition so that they can be re-used in Round 2. Please help us by letting us know if there are any that we miss.

You can read the full decision notice and the planning officer's report on the Horsham website..