Disappointed campaigners are urging others not to ‘lose heart’ after plans for 210 new homes were given the green light at appeal.
Members of the Penland Farm Action Group have been battling to save the green field site near Harlands School in Haywards Heath from development.
But it was the end of the road for the campaign after planning inspector David Prentis granted planning permission to developers Borde Hill Estate and Catesby Estates Limited on Monday.
A spokeswoman said: “We are very disappointed in the decision but respect it, bearing in mind the current state of planning legislation in the UK today.
“It is extremely saddening that the wishes of the majority of local people are often ignored in these situations and developers are effectively permitted to pick and choose which parts of our countryside they wish to build on and it is predominantly our green fields that they can be assured maximum profit.”
In the appeal decision, Mr Prentis said the appeal scheme would represent a ‘sustainable form of development’ as the council cannot demonstrate a five year supply of housing land.
He said 30 per cent of the housing would be affordable, which would be a ‘significant benefit’ as the area has a ‘particular need’ for affordable housing.
Mr Prentis admitted there would be some ‘adverse impacts’ on landscape character, particularly in relation to the ‘loss of the enclosed rural character of Balcombe Road’ but also from the ‘loss of the attractive landscape’.
However he said ancient woodland would be retained and protected.
Members of the action group said they ‘appreciated the need for additional housing for local people’ but said the plans for ‘predominantly’ four and five bedroom homes did not meet this.
A spokeswoman for the group said: “Haywards Heath has seen an incredible amount of development in recent years and its very nature and character are rapidly changing. Despite the loss at this late stage, we truly believe we have achieved a tremendous amount.
“It all goes to show that with strength, courage and determination, communities can pull together, make a stand and take on the ‘big boys’.
“Finally, we would ask that you do not lose heart at this announcement, there are still battles to be fought and changes to be made in our town and, as we have demonstrated, the people in Haywards Heath can fight and fight well.”