Delighted residents applauded the unanimous refusal of plans for a ‘monstrous’ development in ancient woodland on Friday.
The plan to build 48 homes on land north of Birchen Lane, Haywards Heath was rejected on grounds it would have a detrimental impact on Sunte House, a Grade 2 Listed Building, and would harm the medieval assart landscape including adjacent Hollow Way.
What remains of the countryside is more important than it was in the pastHaywards Heath town councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards
Councillors and speakers also spoke of fears for flooding, access, infrastructure and harm to wildlife.
Bob O’Brien, representing the Birchen Fields Action Group, said the plan would have a ‘monstrous adverse impact that outweighs the benefits’, and would harm the ‘character and beauty of the countryside’.
He added that nearby roads could not cope with the additional traffic.
Another raised concerns about the impact on the large amount of animals on the site.
“If there ever were a site of ecological value, this is it,” he said.
Haywards Heath town councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards said the site is not part of the Neighbourhood Plan.
“The housing requirements can be met without it,” he said.
He spoke of the importance of protecting Sunte House, and explained a similar development to the south of the listed building was refused last year.
“What remains of the countryside is more important than it was in the past,” he added.
“The whole area is incredibly attractive.”
Roads near the site are prone to flooding, and councillors discussed the potential for drainage problems.
But drainage consultants and the Environmental Agency are satisfied the site could be developed in a way to prevent flooding.
Speaking after the decision, nearby resident Jim Stone said: “We’re delighted. We appreciate the beauty of the exceptional landscapes which Haywards Heath prides itself on, and need to be preserved. The unanimous decision reflects that.”