97 home plan in Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint strategic gap rejected on appeal

demonstration against pollution at Stonepound crossroads, Hassocks ENGSUS00120130731084503
demonstration against pollution at Stonepound crossroads, Hassocks ENGSUS00120130731084503

An appeal to build 97 homes between Hassocks and Hurstpiertpoint has been rejected.

Developer Gleeson’s application to build on the site, known as Ham Fields, was refused by Mid Sussex District Council in May 2014 because of the traffic and air quality concerns at Stonepound Crossroads.

The developer appealed the decision and an appeal decision, published today, has revealed it was rejected again.

London Road resident Ian Tovey, said the decision was a rare victory for residents.

He said: “It is not very often that we beat these developers and this can only be seen as good news for people who are under threat from these land grabbers.

“The decision by the Inspector has significant weight and this decision will affect some current applications that are in the pipeline for the Village.

“Hassocks is in the process of creating its Neighbourhood Plan and the village has been told to find up to 600 new homes within the plan.

“Because of the air quality any new developments that could have a negative affect on the Junction should be refused.”

Access to the site, in open countryside behind homes in London Road, would be off London Road, which has an average daily weekday traffic flow of 14,000 vehicles.

West Sussex Highways officers have expressed concern about road safety and the impact on Stonepound Crossroads, which, in their words is ‘subject to severe congestion’ and is also an Air Quality Management Area because of higher than average levels of nitrogen dioxide.

Mr Tovey added that he was pleased the inspector took the residents’ point of the importance of the local gap between Hassocks and Hurst, seriously.

He said: “The planning inspector refused to acknowledge the Local Gap as a point of refusal even though we fought for it.

“We kept this point up and took it to the inspectorate at the appeal and she has considered it as a point of refusal.

“Developers are like vultures trying to pick all the green areas around the boundary of Hassocks, the strategic gap has to be protected. The fact she’s made that statement makes a precedent for developments that gap has to be protected.”

The appeal inspectorate concluded: “I have found in the appellant’s favour in relation to the traffic impact of the proposed development.

“I also consider that it would have benefits in terms of the social and economic roles of sustainable development as envisaged by the Framework. In this respect, I give particular weight to the provision of market and affordable housing.

“However, notwithstanding the creation of the hedgerow and meadows, and that the scheme would cause no significant harm to the landscape character or visual amenity of the area,

“I have found that it would undermine the purpose of the Local Gap between Hurstpierpoint and Hassocks and reduce forever the land available to perform its important planning function.

“Furthermore, I cannot be certain that the development would not be detrimental to air quality, and therefore to human health, within the designated AQMA.

“Consequently, it would conflict with the environmental role of sustainable development.”

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