Permission has been given for up to 500 new homes to be built between Crawley and Copthorne.
The application, which also included a primary school, allotments, employment space, and a potential GP surgery, was given the thumbs-up by Mid Sussex District Council on Thursday (July 31).
The news received a lukewarm reaction from Crawley councillors and was heavily criticised by some residents who felt their opposition to the development had been ignored.
Crawley Borough Council leader Cllr Peter Lamb (Lab, Northgate) said: “If development is to take place on Crawley’s borders then it needs to be development which benefits the town and not simply other councils dumping housing on us that they don’t want.”
Once built, the Copthorne development and Crawley’s new neighbourhood, Forge Wood, would only be separated by the M23 – an issue which was reflected in some of the objections logged with Mid Sussex.
Since the application was submitted, the district council received 285 letters of objection raising concerns about issues such as the potential merging of Crawley and Copthorne, the loss of Copthorne’s identity as a village, traffic issues and the effect of possible expansion at Gatwick.
The issue of traffic was a concern highlighted by the borough council during a meeting of its development control committee in June.
Members called for action regarding the impact of the additional traffic on the A264 and roads on the east side of Crawley.
Cllr Richard Burrett (Con, Pound Hill North) said: “I would concur with the concerns raised by the borough council on this issue given the considerable amount of development which is now proposed for areas adjacent to Pound Hill, and as with the North-East Sector, now that planning permission has been granted I will be pushing for the relevant infrastructure issues to be addressed to the greatest possible extent in order to minimise the detrimental impacts of the development on the existing Pound Hill neighbourhood.”
Colin Darby, planning manager at developers St Modwen, said: “We’ve worked very closely with all the relevant authorities over the last few years to make absolutely sure this is a sensitive and appropriate extension of the Copthorne community, providing all the necessary infrastructure and substantial community investment.”
Writing on the Crawley Observer’s Facebook page, Ewan Potter said: “What a great idea to build a new village on an already overly congested section of the Sussex road network, an already over-stretched East Surrey Hospital. Yes I know we need more housing, but why not redevelop existing areas, such as disused industrial estates or office blocks that have stood empty since being built?”