It is extremely disappointing to report that the application to build one detached house behind Silver Birches on Keymer Road was last week approved by MSDC Planning Committee B by 6 votes to 2 with one abstention.
The application can be viewed here.
Previous applications to build on this site in 2010 & 2012 were refused by MSDC, decisions which were subsequently upheld by planning inspectors on appeal. The proposal then was to build a detached house behind Silver Birches as an addition to the three detached houses already granted planning permission in 2008 behind the immediate neighbouring properties Parkwood & Tryfan.
The reasons for refusal then were adding this house would be over development of the site adversely affecting the character of the area and its effect on the street scene from the Keymer Road plus MSDC felt there would be loss of amenities by means of overlooking to neighbouring High Oaks in Woodwards Close.
Since then the developer, Eade, who was granted permission to build the houses behind Parkwood & Tryfan has we believe now sold that site on with the planning permission remain extant in perpetuity. Therefore these houses can and will be built at any time of the new owners choosing.
It is therefore incredible that this MSDC planning committee has agreed with the recommendation of the planning officer, Andy Watt, to approve this latest application to add what will effectively be a fourth house along the same building line as the prospective houses behind Parkwood & Tryfan, when the previous reasons for refusal have not been addressed.
This is the second time in recent months that this committee has completely ignored the wishes of local residents, ward councillors Ian Simpson and Ginny Heard and the Burgess Hill Town Council by voting to allow development on sites which have previously been refused or are totally inappropriate, the first being the decision to approve a new house behind Farthings in April this year. (see entry below)
SOFLAG now believes that these examples provide clear evidence that the decision last year by the MSDC Executive to abandon the Mid Sussex Area Committees (North, Central & South) and replace them with two fully mixed Committees (A & B) was primarily taken to ensure that local councillors could be overruled and their legitimate planning arguments for refusing an application ignored in order to meet the now defunct South East Plan housing targets for Mid Sussex.
It is notable that local ward councillor Ian Simpson who has been a vociferous opponent to inappropriate development in the area was barred from even speaking at the meeting on the grounds he has a prejudicial interest as he lives in the locality.
It is also notable that the planning officer and the committee chose to ignore the compelling arguments put forward by the Burgess Hill Town Council planning committee, ward councillor Ginny Heard, local resident Ian Gooding and Jerry Batte representing SOFLAG and in doing so also dismissed the concerns of numerous residents who wrote to the Council in opposition to the application.
Isn’t this what localism is supposed to be all about?
In his submission Andy Watt referred to the back garden developments already approved in the area with no mention of the higher number that have been refused. He stated the only reason the inspector had rejected the previous appeal was concerns about the effect on the street scene. He pointed out that the inspector had not used any other reasons including overlooking and that they should not therefore refuse on those grounds.
However, he failed to point out the obvious fact that if looked at in conjunction with the permission already given for the 3 houses behind Parkwood and Tryfan, this application for a single house will have exactly the same impact on the street scene that was the reason for refusing permission to increase the 3 houses to 4 by incorporating this now separate plot.
If the Committee really wanted to be consistent, as some stated, then the application should have been rejected for exactly this same reason given by the Inspector last year.
Pru Moore (Burgess Hill, Leylands) spoke against the application stating there was a rural feel to the area and that this type of development has got to stop. She also spoke of the loss of privacy, gross over development of the site, and the small garden not being in keeping with such a big house and opposed the application.
The chairman, Robert Salisbury (Cuckfield), thanked local ward councillor Ginny Heard who spoke at length in opposition and asked the committee for their comments.
Colin Trumble (Hurstpierpoint) said he really did not like this application but said he believed they would be on shaky grounds if they turned it down.
Catherine Cherry (Burgess Hill, ) said it was an over development of the site.
Andrew McNaughton (Ardingly & Balcombe) who was also influential in approving the Farthings development started by saying this was a difficult one and he understood the members concerns. However, he said they had to be consistent so he could not see how the committee could turn it down.
Against Development: Pru Moore (Burgess Hill, Leylands), Catharine Cherry, (Burgess Hill, Leylands). (2)
For Development: Robert Salisbury (Cuckfield), Andrew McNaughton (Ardingly & Balcombe), Margaret Hersey (Lindfield), Bruce Forbes (Crawley Down & Turners Hill), Bob Maidstone, (East Grinstead, Imberhorne), Dick Sweetman, (East Grinstead, Herontye) (6)
Abstain: Colin Trumble (Hurstpierpoint & Downs) (1)
Or, looked at another way:
Against a development in Burgess Hill, two Burgess Hill Councillors
For a development in Burgess Hill, six Councillors from other areas who have no local accountability to Burgess Hill.