Horsham District Council (HDC) will soon have nine new homes to use as temporary accommodation after approving its own planning application.
The application, to demolish a garage block in Rowan Drive, Billingshurst, and replace it with three one-bedroom flats and six two-bedroom flats, received unanimous consent on Tuesday (September 18).
The flats will boost the council’s stock of temporary housing for residents facing homelessness, adding to the 17 it bought last year in Burstow Court, Horsham.
While the application received unanimous consent, there was some anger following an objection from Billingshurst parish councillor Dave Homer.
While recognising the need for more housing, Mr Homer felt Billingshurst had already taken ‘its fair share’.
He said it was ‘inconceivable’ that Horsham would turn down its own application, accusing the council of acting as ‘judge, jury and executioner’.
Mr Homer added: “This application seeks to replace an amenity which had value for local residents, with a facility for the district.
“It should not be delivered at the expense of the local population, many of whom feel that their sense of wellbeing, privacy and amenity are expendable in the face of HDC’s desire to engage in social engineering in a rural village.”
Mr Homer’s accusation was met with calls of ‘disgraceful’ from members.
Committee chairman Brian O’Connell (Con, Henfield) said the comments were ‘non-founded’ and ‘out of order’.
He added: “I can assure you there are no pre-determined decisions here, whoever the applicant is.”
Kate Rowbottom (Con, Billingshurst and Shipley) told the meeting there were currently 36 people living in bed and breakfast in the Horsham district and the new homes were ‘desperately needed’.
While expressing concerns about parking levels and the positioning of the flats close to the road, Nigel Jupp (Con, Billingshurst and Shipley) also supported the application.
He said: “I am extremely pleased that this scheme has come forward because it will provide much-needed affordable housing and temporary accommodation, not only for the locality but also for Billingshurst.”