I* photo above from Tuesday's session

The roundtable discussion on heritage began the Wednesday morning session, with officers from the Council and the developer agreed that the development would cause harm to the setting of Henfield's historic buildings. The question was, what level of harm would be experienced?

Owners of the three nearby listed cottages – Old Mill House, Wisteria Cottage and Rosemount – were all present to make their case, supported by Rob Gordon who chairs the Friends of Henfield Museum.

Jilly Wallis, the new owner of Old Mill House, is keen to make Henfield’s heritage more accessible, As a start, she is opening up the frontage of the garden to make the cottage more visible and she hopes to open their garden to the public at Henfield’s annual festival in June. This will be a great chance to see the line of the old tramway used to take sand down to the railway line in the days when there were sand quarries on Sandy Lane and Windmill Hill.

Her neighbours, Holly Simmonds-Finch and Liz Taylor echoed the message that we are looking to make more of our heritage assets. The new Henfield heritage trail which is currently being planned will go right past these important cottages and down Sandy Lane.

The inquiry then moved on to consider landscape and visual amenity. Steve Bailey introduced the CPRH position, arguing that the developer’s report is seriously flawed and cannot be relied upon. The developer’s representative acknowledged that mistakes had been made but argued
that they didn’t change the conclusions. He claimed that the new estate would soften the harsh edge of the built-up area along Chanctonbury View because of the extra screening vegetation that would be planted.

CPRH’s landscape consultant Alice-Rose Hoile rejected this claim and argued that the developer has not shown any layout that can fit 42 houses into this field without damaging landscape and views. Horsham’s landscape officer Ines Watson agreed with this position.

After lunch, the inquiry started the big issue of Housing Land Supply. The developer claims that Horsham are not delivering enough houses to meet their 5-year targets. Claire Vickers, Cabinet Member of HDC for Housing Development attended the session to emphasise the Council’s ongoing commitment to plan-led delivery of housing numbers. A lengthy technical discussion followed.

Thursday will see the cross-examination of key witnesses by the opposing barristers.

The inspector’s site visit will now take place late on Thursday afternoon in order to avoid the bad weather due to arrive by Friday. In addition to walking around the field and the Conservation Area, the inspector will visit several houses to look at the views available over the field.

Everyone is allowed - and encouraged - to attend the inquiry at the Council Offices in Horsham and listen to the debates. It will start at 9.30am on Thursday and break for the site visits at about 4pm.