An enraged Hassocks resident shouted ‘democracy has died’ and stormed out of a council meeting which saw 130 homes approved.
Developer Rydon was granted permission for land off London Road by Mid Sussex District Council’s district planning committee last Thursday.
This was despite impassioned arguments from residents suggesting that the application for Friars Oak fields was contrary to the emerging neighbourhood plan, and would increase air pollution at the Stonepound crossroads. They also raised safety fears at the railway line crossing for pedestrians, flooding concerns, and the erosion of the strategic gap between Hassocks and Burgess Hill.
Towards the end of the debate Edward Matthews (Con, Copthorne and Worth), vice-chairman of the committee, said: “I can see no sound planning reasons to refuse this.”
One member of the public gallery shouted: “I think that’s rubbish and you know it.
“Democracy has died today. Appalling decision. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.”
Hassocks’ independent county councillor Andy Petch called the plan ‘ill considered’ and described the assertion that the new development would only generate two extra pedestrian trips across the railway crossing a day as ‘absurd’.
Meanwhile Peter Martin (Con, Hassocks) added: “I can’t see for the life of me the common sense of building another 130 houses in what is so self evidently a flood plain.”
The developers argued that a new bridge structure at the access point would ‘not affect the off-site area’ for flooding, while proposed improvements for the Stonepound crossroads would reduce the time vehicles were stationary and ‘mitigate the impact of traffic generated by the development’.
Meanwhile as the neighbourhood plan has yet to be examined the developer said it should only be given ‘limited weight’.
While officers pointed out that neither Network Rail or West Sussex County Council had objected to the application over safety concerns at the railway crossing, the committee asked for an informative to be put on the application expressing their concerns.
The council received 178 letters of objection from residents, but the committee approved the application by six votes to four.
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