The communities secretary has approved outline plans for 97 homes on a site at Hassocks in West Sussex, despite concluding that the decision could ‘lead to an erosion of local confidence in neighbourhood planning’.

Developer Gleeson Developments had appealed against the decision of Mid Sussex District Council to refuse planning permission for the scheme in 2013.

This appeal was subsequently dismissed by a planning inspector, but that decision was overturned at the High Court. The appeal was then redetermined by the secretary of state and he has now decided to allow it, in line with a recommendation from a planning inspector.

A decision letter said that the secretary of state Sajid Javid agreed with the inspector that the development would not be in accordance with key policies in the council’s development plan.

But he also agreed with the inspector that the council’s relevant planning policies were out of date and, as such, should be subject to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)’s presumption in favour of sustainable development.

The letter said that Javid agreed that the development “would generate a number of undisputed quantified benefits, that these would support economic growth and can be accorded significant weight”.

He further agreed that the provision of 97 homes, of which 30 per cent would be affordable, “would represent a substantial boost to housing supply and help to address housing needs” and that “particular weight can be given to this positive social aspect, especially having regard to the shortfall in five year housing land supply and the acute local affordable housing need”.

Hassocks Streetscene
Hassocks Streetscene
Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid approves 97 homes scheme