Heyshott villagers triumph in battle against ‘urban homes’

Objectors Malcolm Hopkins and Pete Riley
Objectors Malcolm Hopkins and Pete Riley
  • Hyde Group had plans for Down Close
  • More than 40 letters of objection were received
  • Villagers feared ‘urban style’ plans would ruin rural community

HEYSHOTT villagers are celebrating after controversial plans to demolish two garage blocks to make way for three affordable homes were refused.

More than 40 letters of objection were received by the South Downs National Park Authority to the Hyde Group’s plans for Down Close.

This decision is a victory for the residents and a victory for common sense in not imposing suburban-type dwellings into the middle of the countryside

Villagers feared the ‘urban style’ plans in the national park would wreck their rural community.

They were also concerned about the loss of much-needed car parking and the dangers posed to children accessing the playground behind the development.

With only two buses a week to and from Heyshott, villagers say car ownership is essential and many of the 13 homes in Down Close have two or more cars.

Objector Malcolm Hopkins told the Observer the plan would ‘invite dangerous parking’.

This week he said: “This decision is a victory for the residents and a victory for common sense in not imposing suburban-type dwellings into the middle of the countryside.”

The plans were refused by the South Downs National Park Authority under delegated powers on the grounds they failed to mitigate for the loss of ‘off street’ car parking.

“There is therefore insufficient evidence to satisfy the planning authority the proposal would not encourage unsafe on-street car parking resulting in significant safety concerns at the junction between Down Close and Heyshott Street,” said an officers’ report.

“Furthermore, insufficient information has been submitted to satisfy the highway authority emergency access could be safely achieved to the proposed development.”

Planning officers were also concerned that the plans did not protect the public right of way which runs across the site and said the line of the path would be obstructed by the development causing significant harm to the users of the network.

They also said the development ‘by reason of its height, scale, design and siting’ would result in an ‘incongruous, generic and dominant addition’ at the edge of the village.

This, said planning officers, failed to preserve the character of the Heyshott Conservation Area and did not contribute positively to the ‘local distinctiveness of the surrounding area’.

They added the plan failed to: “Conserve and enhance the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the South Downs National Park. Furthermore, the provision of parking on the existing ‘green island’, central to Down Close would cause substantial harm, as a result of the loss of this green space, to the character of the conservation area.”

Further grounds for refusal outlined in the decision notice related to the effect of the plans on neighbouring homes at Willowdown and 7 Down Close: “The development will result in an overbearing relationship, with overlooking particularly to Willowdown, causing significant harm to the residential amenities.”