Battle lines are being drawn up by residents angry at proposals to establish two new gypsy and traveller sites.
Mid Sussex District Council is proposing to change the use of the land at Lower Hollow Copse, Copthorne, to site 16 permanent traveller pitches.
It is proposed to build the pitches on two sites - one housing 12 pitches and another housing four pitches, along with access roads, a manager’s office, amenity blocks, drainage works, parking and landscaping.
Strong objections were put forward when the proposals were first made public last September but a planning application was later withdrawn because no ‘Statement of Community Involvement’ had been conducted.
A new public consultation meeting over the proposals was held by Mid Sussex District Council in Copthorne last week. But angry residents remain opposed. They want to preserve the land as a ‘green site’.
Mark Kosky, chairman of the Pot Common Protection Association - a group of residents of Old Hollow and Copthorne Road affected by the plans - said there was massive opposition to the proposals and ‘grave concerns over the suitability, safety and sustainability of this site.’
He added: “The aim of our group is to try and acquire this land and return it to ‘common land’ for the benefit of the residents of Copthorne.
“Possible outcomes could be a nature reserve or a green space for general use. We are also working closely with the Copthorne Village Association and have much support from the surrounding areas.”
When the traveller site proposals were first revealed, a flood of letters of objection were submitted to the council.
Many said there was already a new residential development nearby and that there were insufficient school places, shops, doctors’ surgeries and other infrastructure in place to cope with further expansion.
There were also fears the development would lead to increased traffic leading to further congestion in the area.
A spokesman for Mid Sussex District Council said: “The original application was withdrawn at the request of the council’s planning officer who acts independently. This was because no Statement of Community Involvement had been conducted.”
He said two community involvement events had since been held and added: “It is important to note that no site has been chosen or submitted to the planning committee at this stage.”