Campaigner vows to fight on against ‘essential’ development
Plans to build thousands of new houses west of Ifield have been described as ‘monstrous’ by a campaigner.
But developers insist that the homes are essential if Horsham District Council (HDC) does not want to deal with Crawley overspill throughout the district.
Welbeck Strategic Land, Rydon Homes and Wates Developments have formed a consortium to promote a scheme for between 2,500 and 3,500 homes, within Horsham district, but right on the border with Crawley.
Richard Thomas, partner at Welbeck Strategic, said: “What better place to satisfy Crawley’s needs than on the edge of Crawley itself? We should put it on the edge of Crawley otherwise Billingshurst or Southwater will have to accommodate Crawley overspill.”
Mr Thomas said the duty to co-operate in the Localism Act meant that HDC was legally bound to accommodate new houses for Crawley.
He explained: “Crawley needs a lot more houses not just because of the make-up of its demographic but also because of its employment needs. But it can’t do it because of its administrative boundaries.”
He warned HDC that if it did not allocate the site as a preferred strategy, the planning inspector, who has to approve any new local development framework as sound, would throw it out.
He also confirmed that the council has been in talks with adjoining authorities as required by the Localism Act.
Mr Thomas said if the scheme was given the go-ahead they would look to submit a planning application in 2014, start building in 2015, and finish by 2025, having created ‘good quality family neighbourhoods’.
Houses would be on the southern strip of land, with a public park occupying the northern part, where Gatwick Airport’s noise contours preclude building homes, with possible development of Ifield Golf Course.
Vowing to fight the plans, Richard Symonds, who co-founded The Ifield Society in 2001 to protect the area from development, said residents had been betrayed, hoodwinked, ignored, and dismissed as troublemakers over the past 12 years.
He said: “Both areas - The Meadows and Ifield Golf Club - are within the ancient parish of Ifield, the area which the Ifield Society has been trying to protect from developers for over 12 years - ever since WSCC’s Local Structure Plan described this ancient area as an area ‘lacking in heritage and character’ - as a pretext for giving the ‘green light’ to development of the whole ancient parish.”
Cllr Peter Smith said: “Myself and Chris Oxlade as Labour Ifield councillors will oppose any attempt to build on this site which is both an area of natural and historic beauty and unsuitable for building due to flooding. Horsham has already pushed one large housing development onto the edge of Bewbush and Ifield West, totally out of Crawley residents’ control. Infrastructure wise, we can’t afford another”
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