Villagers are gearing up to stop developers turning more countryside into fields of gold after a crucial decision by a planning inspector.
They believe the approval at top level of planning policy across Horsham district has strengthened their fight to prevent more lands being swallowed up by housing to make big profits for developers.
The decision leaves the path clear for parish councils to consult on and complete their own policy, called neighbourhood plans.
Leaders of parish councils hope this will give villagers more protection against opportunist planning applications by developers.
The next key step in the Horsham District Planning Framework is on November 19, when an extraordinary meeting of the full council will rubber-stamp the policy.
Not all residents have been happy with some of the land allocations in the plan, sometimes abbreviated to the HDPF.
But Claire Vickers, district cabinet member for planning and development, said: “As I have said on earlier occasions, the pressures on councils to build more houses and bring forward plans that conform to Government demands are enormous and growing, and whether we agree with aspects of this Plan or not, I am glad that it has at long last been approved by the Inspector and we can now concentrate on getting the maximum community benefits from it.”
Anna Worthington-Leese, Chairman of Storrington and Sullington Parish Council said:
“I am very pleased that at long last the HDPF is to be put in place.
“This will now enable us in the parishes to complete our Neighbourhood Plans so that we can protect our villages against inappropriate development. Here in Storrington and Sullington we have been besieged in recent years by developers trying to get permission for unsuitable and unnecessary developments prior to the implementation of both the HDPF and the Neighbourhood Plan.
“In the absence of the HDPF some of these have succeeded at appeal and we are delighted that the whole of the district is now in a position to resist this and have the development it wants and needs in the places it considers appropriate.
” Chairman of Henfield Parish Council, Ray Osgood said: “Even though the housing numbers are higher than we initially hoped they would be, to have a Plan in place makes the whole district more secure against speculative development coming forward by appeal.
“The Inspector’s dismissal of the Mayfield Market Town proposal is welcomed, although the continued threat from that source needs to be guarded against.”