VILLAGERS have won the day as they defeated a developer’s attempts to override their carefully-designed neighbourhood plan.
After months of surveys and research, Loxwood Parish Council was delighted when its neighbourhood plan was broadly supported by a government inspector – and the plan is all set to go to referendum this month.
It includes 60 houses to be built in the village on locations decided by residents.
However, an application was also submitted by a developer for 25 homes on land south of Loxwood Farm Place.
“We know what the residents will accept and we know what they will not,” Loxwood Parish Council vice-chairman Chris Agar told the planning committee at Chichester District Council last Wednesday.
The proposed housing attracted dozens of letters of objections from residents when it was submitted.
Cllr Agar’s views were echoed by Tony Colling, of the neighbourhood plan steering group, who said such an undermining of a neighbourhood plan would have great repercussions.
“It’s about the future of neighbourhood plans, both locally in the Chichester district and nationally as a whole,” he said, adding it would ‘undermine the plan-making process’.
The district council’s planning committee supported the parish council, deciding the development would undermine localism if it were allowed.
Speaking in support of the application, Janet Long, from Planit Consulting, said she recognised the neighbourhood plan did not support the development site, but added she questioned the ‘methodology for the choosing of the sites in the village’.
Chichester District Council officers had recommended the committee refuse the decision, which the councillors duly did.
Plaistow’s district councillor Philippa Hardwick praised the Loxwood villagers.
“They have a fabulous neighbourhood plan and the process was well engineered,” she said, describing the amount of engagement from villagers as ‘fabulous’.
As well as citing the conflict with the neighbourhood plan, district officers also attributed weight to the ‘detrimental effect’ the homes would have on nearby listed buildings.