As residents will know, last October Mid Sussex District Council decided to grant planning permission for 130 new houses on the fields to the east of the Friars Oak Pub in spite of strong opposition from local residents and from the Parish Council. This land is not allocated for development in the Parish Councils’ Draft Neighbourhood Plan which was issued after a very intensive public consultation. Residents were asked to state their preferences on possible sites all round the village and over 1000 comments were received. The Friars Oak site ranked 13th out of 15 in the order of public preference.

The decision of Mid Sussex District Council to over-ride the Draft Neighbourhood Plan was so serious that the Parish Council asked the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to over-rule the Mid Sussex Decision and to decide the application himself. The Council was given huge support by Nick Herbert our MP. The Secretary of State has now agreed to “call in” the application and will decide whether or not to grant planning permission after a Public Inquiry which will be held later this year.

In calling the Inquiry the Secretary of State has designated the Parish Council as a “Rule 6” Party, that is to say to play a major role in the proceedings. He also set an extremely demanding timetable for the submission of documents for the Inquiry. For this reason the Council held an Extra-ordinary Meeting on the 17th January when it was unanimously agreed to retain our consultants, Dowsett Mayhew to represent the Council.

Ian Weir, Chairman of the Parish Council, says “We are very pleased that the Secretary of State has been prepared to “call in” this application and to give the Parish Council a leading role at the Inquiry. We are determined to do our best to save our Neighbourhood Plan which balances the need for more housing and the protection of the amenities of our Village”.