Campaigners who fought plans for 45 homes on an Ovingdean paddock fear that their approval on appeal will open the door to hundreds more between the Deans.
Lightwood Group originally planned 105 homes on that site – and when the plans were first unveiled, there was an intention to build 250 more on other sites between Ovingdean, Rottingdean and Woodingdean.
After the council decided to drop its objections over air quality and closing the gap between Ovingdean and Rottingdean, The Deans Preservation Group (DPG) says it was forced not to defend them itself because of the threat of huge costs against them.
The inspector found that the development would do some small damage to the area’s ecology, but that the benefits of more housing outweighed this.
Chair of DPG John Richards said: “Initially, Lightwoods plan was for over 350 homes spread over Woodingdean, Rottingdean and even one of Longhill Schools playing fields that abutts Meadow Vale.
“Although the original 105 houses were reduced to 85 and subsequently 45 after the Inspectors decision at Lightwoods first appeal, this will set a precedent for the rest of the field to be built on eventually.
“The closed door meeting in which the council decided to abandon defending the planning application at the appeal was an absolute disgrace for democracy.
“The decision made it very difficult for DPG to defend. We had two and a half months in which to get surveys and professional help that we could afford at such short notice. We made the decision not to defend the two reasons that the council took out of the equation as we were threatened with costs against us if we did. Our backs were against the wall.
“We did however, put up an amazing fight. Some likened it to David and Goliath.
“Unfortunately, the decision is made on the site in question and will not take into account of what else is happening nearby. Just a few hundred yards along Falmer Road, there is a very large plot of land for sale which was recently granted change of use to allotment status. Watch this space!
“There are also two other planning applications at this moment in the same area and St. Aubyns School in Rottingdean is actively seeking planning permission for both the school and the playing fields.
“Falmer Avenue and Coombe Farm have both been granted planning permission for large amounts of homes. Peacehaven has a huge amount of development happening right now, the largest on the farm of 450.
“In January 2017, the Government made a statement that they will be building villages that will have their own identity. Can someone please tell us and the hundreds of our supporters, why are they allowing the destruction of ancient established villages?”
The group also raised concerns about strains on infrastructure, with no doctor’s surgery between Woodingdean, which the group said is full, and Saltdean.
And an independent traffic advisor, Rob Shepherd, told the group he believed that the developer underestimated how much air pollution existing traffic in Rottingdean generates, which means any extra development will push it even closer to breaking or exceeding legal limits. However, with the council dropping its air quality objection, this was too difficult for the group to argue.
Lightwood Group was approached for comment.