A care home and 40 new houses were approved in Sayers Common despite residents’ flooding fears.
An outline planning application for land north of Reeds Lane and west of Dunlop Close was approved by Mid Sussex District Council’s district planning committee on Thursday (April 21).
The decision follows a long-running planning saga on the site as a previous application for 120 homes was refused, went to appeal, was then called-in, with the case eventually going to a judicial review before finally being rejected by the Secretary of State, who gave significant weight to the emerging neighbourhood plan.
More than 180 residents wrote to the district council to object to the new proposals.
Philip Edwards, a Sayers Common resident for 15 years, called proposals ‘flawed to the core’, raising ‘massive’ speeding problems on the B2118, and argued that the fields in question flooded on a regular basis.
Brandishing a copy of the Mid Sussex Times showing flooding in the area back in January, Jenny Sweet pointed out that the made Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common Neighbourhood Plan stated that new planning permissions should not be granted unless severe surface water flooding and sewage problems have been resolved.
Reeds Lane had flooded in January, while in March she described how raw sewage had come back up through kitchen sinks, washing machines and toilets in homes in Dunlop Close.
John Wilkinson (Con, Hurstpierpoint and Downs) argued that the neighbourhood plan allocated 30 to 40 homes in Sayers Common, not 40 homes plus a care home.
Colin Trumble (Con, Hurstpierpoint and Downs) asked if since neighbourhood plans were silent on care homes they would be ‘plastering the countryside’ with them.
He said: “Are we going to have 30,000 care homes across the district?”
He thought there were better sites in the village to fulfil the aspirations set out in the neighbourhood plan, but officers said the Secretary of State had raised no objections to including a care home within the scheme.
Meanwhile Phillip Coote (Con, Crawley Down and Turners Hill) said the site was ‘quite obviously in a flood plain’ and described the access as ‘appalling’.
But Edward Matthews (Con, Copthorne and Worth) said the committee had to look coldly at applications on planning grounds, and without an up-to-date district wide plan they had to be governed by the presumption in favour of sustainable development set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
Officers explained that since the site was downstream of many other sites that suffered flooding in Sayers Common it was unlikely the development would add to any problems upstream.
Councillors were told that a reserved matters application would come back to the committee with detailed conditions and mitigation measures to deal with the flood risks and problems.
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