Mid Sussex District Update February 2019

4th February 2019

Mid Sussex updates, including latest from Burgess Hill, Mayfield Market Town, Hassocks, High Weald, Horsted Keynes and Gatwick.

Burgess Hill

Homes England has taken on responsibility for the development of the very large Northern Arc scheme to the north west of Burgess Hill and has formally applied for outline planning permission for just over 3,000 houses and a host of support infrastructure facilities.

This scheme forms part of Mid Sussex District Council’s (MSDC) plan for growth. We hope that the involvement of Homes England will ensure the development proceeds on a timely basis.

Whatever one may think about the pros and cons of Burgess Hill’s planned expansion and of the large development there that forms part of that plan, the adoption last April of the new Mid Sussex District Plan makes it inevitable. It is imperative that the new homes are built out on a timely basis so that delays do not lead to Mid Sussex District Council falling behind in the delivery of its housing delivery target and lose control of their strategic planning responsibilities.

MSDC is currently working on an update to its site allocation document identifying further sites where future development will be encouraged if (as is expected) the Plan’s housing target is increased further. The Plan itself envisages an increase from the current 876 homes p.a. to 1,090 p.a, and is subject to a review of housing need at local and wider housing area level by 2023.

We expect publication of a consultation draft document later this year.

“Mayfield Market Town”

We would be very concerned indeed if MSDC were to change its current opposition to a long-threatened “Mayfield Market Town”. Allocating land for future development there would mean over 10,000 houses straddling the Mid Sussex/Horsham boundary west of Burgess Hill. However, there is no relief from the pressure to find places to build more houses.

Hassocks

Many residents think that they have had a poor deal out of the recent planning process with a particularly high level of new housing in the offing, including the last minute allocation in the District Plan of a site for 500 new homes at Clayton Mills.

It is particularly gratifying for residents that, against their officer’s advice, the Planning Committee decided to refuse permission for the latest large invasive housing scheme proposed by Rydons for 135 houses on the Friars Oak site: an application that is admitted not to be fully in line with the housing distribution policy in the new Plan. Rydons has lost no time in appealing this refusal.

Also waiting in the wings for determination is another application for 165 houses on Hassocks golf course, which again is not fully in line with the District Plan housing distribution policy, but which the Planning officer is recommending for approval.

High Weald – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

We have recently committed considerable resource to issues involving the High Weald AONB. Refreshingly, amidst all its other troubles, the Government has found time to establish an independent review under Julian Glover into the effectiveness of the protection for, and operations of, England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This review coincides with the 70th anniversary of the 1949 legislation under which the first National Parks were designated.

We have a keen interest in the outcome of this important and welcome review. CPRE played a significant role in advocating for the 2010 designation as a national park. We have also become increasingly worried about the erosion of the protection that the High Weald and Chichester Harbour AONBs are supposed to enjoy, and the need for greater independence for AONBs from sectional planning authority decision-making. CPRE at both National and Sussex levels have made detailed suggestions to Glover that address these concerns and other issues.

Horsted Keynes

CPRE Sussex is working alongside residents of Horsted Keynes opposed to a speculative development proposal for 38 houses. It is outside the village boundary in an especially sensitive part of the High Weald, would affect the village Conservation Area and a number of listed buildings.

This development refused permission last summer, but the would-be developers have appealed that refusal to the Planning Inspectorate. CPRE Sussex is an interested party in that appeal.

Gatwick

Finally, to the elephant in our room: the “Master Plan” proposal by Gatwick Airport to expand its operations despite not being selected for the development of London’s next extra runway.

Whilst the airport’s owners have yet to disclose in any detail what impacts they expect their proposal to have, there are bound to be extremely severe and widespread impacts on housing demand – in an area that cannot meet all its current needs – on road, rail and other infrastructure, on noise and air quality, and on Sussex’s wildlife, countryside and environment.

In response to this threat, CPRE Sussex has declared a Countryside State of Emergency to protect our rural communities and the natural beauty and tranquillity of our county.

It would be unthinkable to allow Gatwick to urbanise Sussex in this way.

CPRE Sussex will be joining with all the other community and conservation groups to oppose these plans.

We have already written to the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove MP, highlighting our concerns and explaining our emergency campaign to safeguard Sussex’s rural communities, AONBs and National Park from Gatwick Airport’s Master Plan.

Michael Brown

Mid Sussex District lead