Initial decisions on where new house building can take place throughout the Horsham area - where sites for 27,000 new homes have neen pinpointed - are soon to be made.
A string of developers have put forward proposals to build thousands of new homes on land between Horsham and Crawley at Ifield and on sites in Southwater, Adversane, Billingshurst, West Grinstead and on land between Henfield and Wineham.
If planning approval were granted for all the proposals, it would add up to 27,000 new houses being built in the area.
Horsham District Council is now reviewing and developing a new ‘Local Plan’ which will guide future developments in the area up until 2036.
The council’s cabinet will be asked to approve a draft plan at a meeting on January 30. If granted, the public will be invited to have their say on the proposals from February 17.
A spokesman said: “All local authorities are now required by the Government to build a significant number of new homes in the coming years.
“The new Local Plan will set out how the district will meet the challenges of delivering these developments in a sustainable way, delivering the social, economic and environmental needs of Horsham district, as well as looking beyond our boundaries and bringing the right infrastructure, community facilities and job opportunities to benefit both existing and new residents,”
But already, many communities in the area are voicing strong opposition to the possibility of thousands of new homes being built in their neighbourhoods.
There are fears that there is insufficient infrastructure - schools, GP surgeries and hospitals - to cope with a mass increase in population.
Many are also concerned at the loss of green fields, trees, hedging and wildlife which would follow mass development.
However, Horshamd District Council says that its Local Plan 2019-2036 will help to shape where developments can take place “to minimise their effect on the environment.”
It says that it would also ensure the provision of appropriate transport links; provide homes built to a high standard and address the impacts of climate change while ‘highlighting to other public bodies the need to deliver infrastructure and community facilities.’
Horsham District Council cabinet member for development Claire Vickers said: “One of the aims of a new Plan is to set out how the housing number requirement is to be met in the most sustainable way, including aiming for an increase in biodiversity, a high percentage of affordable homes and good public amenities. We also need to consider how we provide local, well-paid jobs for our people.”
Meanwhile, the go-ahead has already been given for building 2,750 new homes, a new school and business site on land north of Horsham. The development is expected to take 15 years to complete with the first phase of development of 1,000 homes ready for occupation by 2021.