Concerns about losing prime agricultural land prompted Arun councillors to reject an outline application for 33 homes in Yapton.
Planning officers recommended the application, for Clays Farm, in North End Road, be approved, saying the benefits of the development would outweigh the loss of the grade 1 land.
But most members of the district council’s development control committee did not agree on Wednesday, raising a number of concerns.
They included overdevelopment of the area and worries about the level of traffic it would bring.
Clays Farm is surrounded by a number of other sites which have already been approved or selected for development, with a potential total of 253 homes involved.
Some councillors saw this as a good reason to leave the land untouched, describing it is a ‘green lung’.
However, planning officers warned that Arun only had a 4.7-year housing land supply, rather than the required five, so the council would be on shaky ground if it refused the application.
It was an issue which was raised multiple times throughout the meeting and proved a source of frustration for some.
Jim Brooks (Ind, Marine) criticised developers for dragging their feet over approved applications, saying their failure to get on and build the new homes was ‘a major contributory factor’ in the supply shortfall.
He added: “In the one hand we are forced to accept more development and one of the reasons that we don’t have any say is because the developers aren’t developing the ones that they should in a timely manner.”
John Charles (Con, Barnham) supported the planning officer’s recommendation.
He said he could see no planning reason to turn it down, adding that the new A29 would ‘take a lot of the weight off’ the roads around the development site.
Mr Charles also criticised members for ‘questioning officers’ professional statements’, calling it ‘wrong’.
It was quickly pointed out to him by Hugh Coster (Ind, Aldwick East) that councillors needed to answer to the public and were expected to question such things.
He added: “The notion that we as councillors shouldn’t make our own observations from our own knowledge in relation to the area, which is precisely what we are for, I find quite extraordinary.
“We have every right to do so.”
A recorded vote was called for which saw four members vote for the application, four against with five abstentions.
With the chairman absent, vice-chairman Isabel Thurston (Green, Barnham) cast the deciding vote, rejecting the application on the grounds that the loss of high-grade agricultural land conflicted with the Arun Local Plan, Yapton Neighbourhood Development Plan and National Planning Policy Framework.