LETTER: Plan’s lack of sensitivity

Your letters
Your letters

I refer to your report on page three of the Middy of December 15 concerning planning permission at Penland Farm.

Permission for 210 houses had already been granted on appeal in March 2015 to the trustees of Borde Hill, which then sold the land to national housebuilder, Redrow which then came up with a housing layout.

So this was no longer an argument about development or numbers but about how it would look. Considering it is a sensitive area, open countryside, next to the AONB, a site with ancient woodland and in a strategic gap, we were looking and hoping for some sensitivity in design and landscaping.

Clearly this was now not the concern of Borde Hill, which had sold the site to a national house builder which would squeeze in its standard house type into every inch to maximise profit.

We didn’t expect much better from this firm but what did expect much better from our planning officers and from our local councillors. But no we were disappointed. A deeply flawed plan that the planning officer acknowledged (the MSDC Design Panel and the Council’s Architect expressed reservations on the housing layout and house types proposed) and councillors had been warned about in detail, including ignoring the caveats of the planning inspector, was voted through, with little discussion.

Only Councillor Trumble arguing that a decision should be deferred because the Redrow plan did not provide “good design and a sense of place within the landscape and local area” (national planning law).

Amazingly, Steve Ashdown, Senior MSDC planning officer, recommended approving the design and the Planning Committee chairman, Councillor Robert Salisbury, wanted it approved as well and in the end all councillors bar Mr Trumble voted to approve the development.

We are deeply disappointed that our local councillors are not on our side.

We are disappointed that in spite of the failings, reservations and misgivings about this design for this large development of 210 houses, Mr Ashdown, the planning officer still recommended that this plan be agreed, and finally that Mr Salisbury directed it to be agreed.

What would it have cost to have deferred the plan for further consideration and improvement? As I have said this was not about planning permission but at this stage was about sensibleness and sensitivity but this was dismissed.

Stephen Horsfield

Penland Road, Haywards Heath

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