Controversial proposals for 97 new homes to be built in Hassocks are now in the hands of the planning inspector.
Developer Gleeson is appealing the decision made by Mid Sussex District councillors in May last year not to build on Ham Meadows – open countryside to the west of London Road.
Hassocks campaigners battled the initial application, with one district councillor branding it a ‘blatantly opportunistic application’.
A date for the inquiry has now been set for March.
Julie Unstead is one of dozens of Hassocks residents objecting to the appeal.
“We all appreciate the current housing crisis this country is faced with however this demand cannot simply be justified by placing houses in the gaps in the existing communities,” she said. “My family and myself have lived in our house on the corner of Stonepound junction for many years. We have no rest from the current traffic volume which creates noise and pollution which has caused my family breathing problems over the years.”
Lionel Foot, of London Road, said the development could put children’s lives at risk when trying to cross the road. He wrote: “Residents not wishing to take their lives in their hands will use their cars and cause even more congestion.”
He said the volume of traffic on the road is increasing, forming ‘long queues and adding to the pollution’.
Campaigners are also fighting to protect against coalescence between Hurstpierpoint and Hassocks, arguing that the development will ‘erode the strategic gap’ between the two villages.
Speaking in November 2013, Hassocks district councillor Peter Martin said: “Hell will freeze over before they build on those fields. Gleeson have chosen to ignore the pollution at Stonepound and this is one of those occasions when I have got to stick my neck out and robustly oppose any opportunist plans to desecrate Ham Meadows.”
The application includes plans for 97 homes – 29 of them affordable – with more than 200 car parking spaces and landscaping.
Hassocks Parish Council and Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common Parish Council are both objecting to the plans and will be making representations at the inquiry.
A spokeswoman for Hassocks Parish Council said: “The population of Hassocks has increased considerably over the past decade and Hassocks has recently taken a development of 250 dwellings at Clayton Mills, which was still being absorbed.
“While it was accepted that there was need for some additional housing in the village, particularly for local people, it was thought that the negative effects of the proposed development in terms of air quality, traffic congestion, increased burdens on the infrastructure and damage to the environment outweighed the benefits.”
Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel and South Downs, spoke out against the plans last year because the development was not outlined in the Hassocks neighbourhood plan. He also said the strategic gap between the two villages should be ‘maintained’ to keep them separate.
The inquiry will take place at Mid Sussex District Council on March 31 at 10am.