HUNDREDS of planned homes in Aldingbourne have been refused planning permission.
Councillors decided to reject the plan for the 268 dwellings even though the developer made a last-minute offer of £1.34m to improve the A29.
They agreed the scheme on 11.64 hectares of farmland would significantly encroach into the countryside and harm the area’s character.
They also decided it was unsustainable and needed guaranteed funding from the developer towards facilities such as play areas, the fire service and libraries.
Arun District Council’s development control committee made its decision after a dramatic break in its debate called by its chairman, Cllr Jacqueline Maconachie.
As reported, she said its members needed to time to absorb the details of the offer by Land Fund and adjourned the meeting for 75 minutes last Wednesday.
The benefits of improved pedestrian and cycle routes from the site at Nyton Road and Northfields Lane and off Fontwell Avenue to Barnham railway station had caused the council’s planning officers to reverse their recommendation from refusing the scheme to approving it.
Cllr Mrs Maconachie said: “I’m not happy with the number of houses for the site bearing in mind it’s in the countryside.
“The number of dwellings each hectare is completely out of character with the area.”
Cllr Jean Goad (C, Barnham) said: “This about-turn has rather taken us by surprise.
“This application, in some ways, has a certain amount of merit... but even if it has merit in some instances there are too many ifs and buts.
“There are more ifs and buts than pluses in my opinion.” Some of the site was also in the flood zone.
Cllr Jon Charles (C, Barnham) said: “I don’t see what has changed apart from the fact we have got some money.”
Cllr Joyce Bowyer (C, Brookfields) said: “This is not sustainable because the bus service is non-existent. There are very few facilities in the area.”
Cllr Dougal Maconachie (C, Barnham) said: “This is a completely hopeless place to build on.”
Arun had received 100 letters of objection to the homes as well as protests from Aldingbourne and Barnham parish councils.
Land Fund’s planning agent, Huw James, said: “The scheme is a sustainable, high-quality housing proposal and, in our view, a feasible alternative to meeting current housing needs in view of the lack of the support for the 2,000 housing allocation for Barnham and Eastergate and the lack of viability for an A29 re-alignment.”