The 'before' photo is taken from the field proposed for housing development and shows the mist lying on the Adur floodplain below the South Downs. 'After' is the Fairfax impression of how the completed development might look.
As some Henfield residents are aware, Fairfax Properties (a city developer with a regional office near Haywards Heath), have recently hand-delivered a 'Public Consultation Information Leaflet' into local letterboxes. Their proposal outlines plans to provide 42 houses on a greenfield site north of Sandy Lane. What sets Fairfax Properties apart (according to their literature) is that ‘they care about the communities where they work’. and 'they take time to understand the needs of local residents'.
The question arises therefore, why the direct leaflet drop?
Fairfax Properties have engaged in Henfield’s new Neighbourhood Planning process, but in parallel advise that they also now intend submitting an outline planning application direct to Horsham District Council.. Imminently.
Why are Fairfax Properties not waiting for Henfield's contracted independent assessor to make site recommendations for further local democratic consideration? No one knows what these recommendations are currently. Could it be that Fairfax lack confidence in their plan to develop Sandy's Lane green field site and winning the hearts and minds of Henfield's community?
By jumping the gun Fairfax appear to be intentionally disrupting Henfield's community desire to engage in local democracy ie. Henfield-wide residents collectively agreeing and voting for Henfield’s housing allocation needs aligned with Horsham Districts housing allocation needs and UK PLC's need for more housing stock.
The greenfield site Fairfax propose to develop is on high quality agricultural land in a part of rural Henfield that possesses a deep historic heritage. The site on which they purport to be consulting with the community has been rejected on several occasions by Inspectors in the past. What has changed therefore to make their proposal any more acceptable or sustainable this time around?
This rural site with magnificent village community views overlooks probably the second most important area in West Sussex for migratory birds after Pulborough Brooks.
The Campaign to Protect Rural Henfield is deeply suspicious about the motives of any developer (particularly city-backed ones driven solely by profit) trying to undermine the strong sense of community cohesion existing within our village. If Fairfax are serious about wanting to engage with local communities, then please work with our community Neighbourhood Planning process - as opposed to trying to subvert it.
We believe that the land north of Sandy Lane is the thin end of a very big housing wedge. We agree with the need to provide more local housing. All we ask is that developers work with our community and not take speculative pot shots at loopholes they feel they can exploit in the current UK planning policy.
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Hub Editor's note: If Fairfax Properties would like to respond to this article by CPRH, we'd be very happy to publish their reply.