Extra chairs were needed as more than 80 people from Henfield (and elsewhere!) turned up to watch and take part.

Inspector David Cliff opened the inquiry and made clear that he wanted to give everyone chance to speak - an offer keenly taken up by CPRH representatives.

Sally Hawes read out a statement from our MP, Nick Herbert, expressing his concern that after so much voluntary effort has been put into the Neighbourhood Plan, public faith in the planning system could be undermined if this development were permitted. He objected strongly to developers 'gaming' the system.

Chairman of the Parish Council, Malcolm Eastwood, spoke next about Henfield's commitment to community led planning and our wish to remain as a rural village. Malcolm was followed by District Councillor Josh Potts who described the site's history of planning rejections and the 350+ objections that have been submitted from all over Henfield.

Charles Taylor spoke for CPRH on heritage issues, commenting that "Henfield is a village on a hill, but if this development goes ahead it will become a town around a hill".

Phil Johnson then described how the urbanisation of this rural spot would destroy so much of the amenity enjoyed by visitors and residents alike, not least by the scores of families living close to the field.

inspector Cliff had to ask the audience to refrain from clapping and cheering the speakers!

All that before lunch!

In the afternoon, John Gordon introduced the contentious issue of traffic and road safety. His speech generated a huge reaction from the audience and a number of people spoke passionately about their own experiences on the dangerous corner of Dropping Holms. Eliza Easterbrook, only 13 years old, talked about her concerns getting to and from the school bus. Her mother asked whether we need a serious accident to occur before people wake up to the issue. Linda Keelan talked about how the traffic dangers are keeping her from horse riding and why we are seeing fewer horses on the lanes of Henfield.

After some technical difficulties the inspector watched two short videos on the traffic chaos that sometimes occurs at the Mill End-Sandy Lane junction. Despite the strong reactions invoked in the audience, the traffic specialist for the developer read out a prepared position claiming there were absolutely no problems. When challenged about the scenes in the videos, he replied this was perfectly normal for a residential area and since there was no accident it was not a problem.

Wednesday will see the debates on heritage and landscape character, starting at 9.30am in the Horsham District Council offices at Park House. CPRH is keen to have as many local residents as possible come along to show their concerns about the proposed development.