Major Petworth homes plan has been ‘sneaked in under the wire’

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Plans for a major housing development in Petworth which flies in the face of the town’s emerging Neighbourhood Plan (NP) have ‘angered and disappointed’ the group behind the town’s vision for the future.

West Sussex County Council has submitted plans for 34 new homes on land next to the Rotherlea Care Home off Dawtrey Road.

But Petworth Neighbourhood Plan has earmarked a maximum of 22 homes there amid safety fears in an area which already suffers chronic traffic congestion close to the primary school.

Petworth Town Council, which is leading the painstaking work, has spent some £60,000 and more than two years drawing up the Neighbourhood Plan which goes out for its final public consultation on Friday (March 31) before the last stages of independent examination and the referendum.

After this the plan should be set in stone and become part of planning policy guidance for developers.

But council chairman Chris Kemp believes the county council is making a cynical attempt to bypass the plan by attempting to get planning permission before it is officially ‘made’.

“They are trying to sneak in under the wire and we are disappointed because we have asked them to come to the table and talk to us and they haven’t. They say they will talk once they have planning permission, but that will be too late to take account of how the town wants to see that site developed.

“This looks like the big boys playing clever and we hope the South Downs National Park will support us and turn the application down.”

He added: “They have encouraged us to do this plan and given us dedicated officers to help us because they are keen that we get it right so we see this as a big test for the park to support what the community wants.”

The town council’ has strongly objected to the application on the grounds that the proposed housing density of just over 42 homes per hectare and parking spaces for 59 cars was ‘far too high’.

“The inevitable impact of the additional cars on an area of known traffic congestion is unacceptable,” said members.

“The proposed development has clearly not taken into account the inadequacy of the existing road

access to the school.

“There is daily congestion at the opening and end of the school day, when parents are delivering and collecting their children.”

Congestion was made worse, they said by the commercial vehicles from the food production facility in the kitchens of the former Herbert Shiner School.

“The access to the proposed site from South Grove (a dead-end road) will inevitably add to this congestion as it is located almost opposite the entrance to the school and it does not include a turning facility.

“There is also a feeling that these plans are likely to cause accidents at the poorly sighted junction with Dawtry Road and the A285.”

Town councillors also objected to the three storey blocks planned on the edged of the site which they said were ”overbearing and out of scale with other housing in the area.

“Due consideration has not been given to the Petworth NP. We recommend the applicant engages with the Petworth NP Steering Group in order to co-ordinate a structured approach to this development site in relation to other proposed sites in the plan.”

A raft of objections from neighbours has also been filed including John Galvin headteacher of the primary school who said it would exacerbate an already ‘horrendous’ parking problem at the start and end of the school day.

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