Our picturesque Sussex landscape is under threat from
opportunistic housing development. The application to build 42 properties in a green field on the western flank of Henfield, overlooking the South Downs and adjacent to the village’s historic Nep Town area, has provoked a furious response from local residents.
The site, which was not identified for development in Horsham District’s strategic housing plan, was also considered unsuitable by Henfield’s Neighbourhood Plan of 2016. However, the Neighbourhood Plan, which took 3 years to develop and won 94.3% support in our village referendum, was over-turned when a developer appealed to the High Court on a technicality. This leaves Henfield vulnerable to speculative development while the local community works hard to get another Neighbourhood Plan in place.
The developer argues that the green field is a ‘’windfall site’’, which Horsham is obliged to accept for development. CPRH strongly disputes this. The hillside location lies outside the Built-Up Area Boundary of the village, an invisible but crucial line that separates developed, urban settlement from countryside that needs to be protected. Its rural setting connects via the Downs Link to the South Downs National Park and it already has a long history of planning rejections. A Planning Inspector once declared it would be “an incongruous and prominent extension of the built-up area into the countryside”. Locals say that situation has not changed.
Residents fear that this proposal would be the “thin end of the wedge” for more development, a phrase which has become the CPRH campaign slogan. It would create an unnatural new boundary to the built-up area which would then encourage other developers to claim they should build even more houses next to it. A glance at the map shows how easily the south-west of Henfield could be swallowed up by housing.
Local resident Julie Mitchell says “We strongly believe that this is ’the wrong field, in the wrong place’ for development.” Julie is one of the team of hard-working CPRH enthusiasts who are now are actively raising awareness amongst households in Henfield.
CPRH chairman Phil Johnson says the group fully recognises the national need for more housing and supports the local planning process to deliver it sensitively. Sadly, some developers do not recognise the vital importance of our countryside to our way of life and our wellbeing. Instead they like to portray residents as Nimbies who do not accept change.
CPRH are urgently asking supporters of this campaign to write or email their objections to Horsham District Council before the deadline of Wednesday 12th December 2018.
Full details of how to object are given here.
CPRH Contact information
You can view and object to the planning application online here.
Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are those of CPRH. Henfield Hub welcome views from other parties.