Mid Sussex District Council has issued a formal warning to developer Crest Nicholson for starting work in Handcross ahead of schedule.
The council said the developer had started work without discharging pre-commencement conditions on the site.
A spokesman for the district council said: “In December of last year Crest Nicholson started works on the development of land near Handcross Primary school in Handcross.
“Work started at the site, proposed to become 75 new homes and a 60-bed care home, prior to all pre-commencement conditions being met.
“MSDC’s planning officers instructed Crest Nicholson to attend a meeting where they were advised that the works were unlawful and a temporary stop notice was issued on the site.
“MSDC officers brought a prosecution against the developer Crest Nicholson, which was only withdrawn when the developer admitted to breaching the terms of the notice and re-commencing development works before all the pre-commencement conditions were discharged. The developer also then agreed to pay all MSDC costs.”
Councillor Andrew MacNaughton, MSDC’s cabinet member for housing and planning, said: “We cannot accept developers picking and choosing when to start their development works.
“Our planning officers work tirelessly to ensure that all development across this district is properly managed and completed with minimal impact on our residents and on our beautiful surroundings.”
Crest Nicholson apologised to the council for the ‘commencement of works before outstanding conditions were formally discharged’.
Mr MacNaughton added: “I am pleased that Crest Nicholson accepted that they were in the wrong on this occasion and has agreed to pay all MSDC costs.
“What is more they are under no illusions that should this happen again on any other site in Mid Sussex we will immediately take them to court.
“This should also serve as a lesson to any other developers in our district.”