Permission to build 63 new homes in East Grinstead has been refused due to ‘serious concerns’ over traffic.
Outline planning permission for the homes in Crawley Down Road, Felbridge, was sought at a Mid Sussex District Planning Committee meeting yesterday (October 13).
The application, which was recommended for approval, was to demolish numbers 15 and 39 in Crawley Down Road, to make way for the new homes, along with a new access.
It was refused by councillors – five votes to four.
Councillors only had to consider the homes as the access falls out of Mid Sussex. This is instead being dealt with by Tandridge District Council.
Speaking against the application, a spokesman for East Grinstead Town Council urged the committee to refuse the application.
He said: “We cannot keep taking more housing until the road network is improved.
“The A22 and A264 are already over capacity. And the application does not fit with the East Grinstead Neighbourhood Plan. This application will blow both of these out the window.”
Ian Gibson, chairman of the Planning and Highways Committee at Worth Parish Council, said the road network was a ‘serious concern’.
“There is concerns over the capacity of the area and infrastructure, such as doctors and schools. The East Grinstead Neighbourhood Plan should be given full weight,” he said.
A spokesman from i-Transport insisted the traffic impact would instead be ‘beneficial’.
“Something will be done, we have five options in improving the traffic. Traffic signals will work much better then they do at the moment,” he said.
Meryl Baker of Wates Developments urged the council to approve the plan due to a ‘housing crisis’.
She said: “The current age of first time buyer is 32 which means three million young people live with their parents.
“This application upholds ten per cent of this and there will be 19 affordable homes. The site has had vigorous checks and there is no objections.
“There will be two to three acres of open space, an area of play and parking which could support school drop offs and pick ups.”
Councillor Edward Matthews echoed traffic concerns over the application and asked his fellow committee members to refuse or defer the application.
“I am surprised why this application has come forward. I have listened to the speakers and I think they each have absolutely nailed it on the head,” he said.
“We are a whisker away of getting our District Plan and five-year housing supply. My thoughts are to refuse this or at least defer it to a later date when we have a better idea on what we are dealing with.
“This application does not comply with the East Grinstead Neighbourhood Plan and at a town council meeting they refused it. The neighbourhood plan should be given full weight in determining the decision.
“These promises about the roads have been going on for 20 years, nothing has been done, nothing is ever done. This application will only exacerbate the problem. What is the pressure to get this one through so quickly?
“I am very pro-development and I would like to see this development happen for the economy of East Grinstead but due to infrastructure issue, it will only exacerbate the problem.”
Councillor Anthony Watts Williams disagreed with the concerns raised and said he was struggling to see why the application could not be approved.
Councillor Colin Trumble also said he could not see any reasons to why it should be refused.
“I do understand the traffic issues as I live in Hurstpierpoint and the traffic and building works can be awful but it is the reality of today unfortunately,” he added.
Planning officers insisted the development would not have a negative impact on the area and said it was ‘acceptable’.