From our previous post you will know that Taylor Wimpey have lodged a new application that is for all intents and purposes the same as the one refused in July 2016. The District Council is trying to push this through now that they have withdrawn their opposition to DM/16/1012.
Although this application is in all material ways the same as DM/16/1012, Mid Sussex District Council have made it clear that they cannot transfer over representations from one planning application into another and that objections and comments will have to be sent in all over again. The Society will resubmit all our previous reasons and we will add to or strengthen them as we see fit. Please do the same.
As the application is scheduled to be decided by a Planning Committee on 16th February 2017, it is important to submit objections, headed Taylor Wimpey, ref DM/16/5648, Land to the East of Gravelye Lane, Lindfield to arrive by 3rd February 2017. Please e-mail them directly to the case officer Steven.King@midsussex.gov.uk, or write to Steven King, Planning Office, Mid Sussex District Council, Oaklands Road, Haywards Heath RH16 1SS.
As before, it is important that objections are based on sound planning considerations. You may find some of the following points useful in formulating your comments.
Taylor Wimpey’s application displays many of the same features that were unacceptable in the Wates scheme. For example:
- It violates Lindfield’s formally adopted Neighbourhood Plan, which expressly excludes development beyond the boundaries of the built-up area. It should be clear why this is so. Lindfield has already absorbed three major developments that are increasing our population by 20% and spilling 600 more cars onto our roads.
- It violates the emerging Mid Sussex District Plan, which stipulates that this site would require allocation in the Neighbourhood Plan.
- It would destroy a considerable expanse of countryside and wildlife habitat, for the sake of a large, exposed housing estate completely out of keeping with the character of Lindfield.
- It is entirely unnecessary. There are already approved sites for more than 5,000 houses in Mid Sussex. Over the last ten years, developers have on average completed fewer than 500 per year.
- In addition, a large part of the development would become a prominent and inappropriate urban backdrop to Lindfield Common. The Common and adjoining roads form a large part of the Lindfield Conversation Area. Damage to the character of this area has been successfully cited in the past as a reason for refusing permission to build on this site.
For further information, please contact the Lindfield Preservation Society on
482 538 or 483 367
In July 2016, Mid Sussex District Council’s Planning Committee voted overwhelmingly to refuse permission for a speculative, inappropriate housing scheme by Taylor Wimpey in Lindfield. As is usual, the developer appealed. It has now emerged that council officials have responded by withdrawing their reasons for refusal, effectively conceding the appeal.
The council had been provided with a palette of strong reasons for refusal at the July hearing, from Parish Councils, the Lindfield Preservation Society, council members and well over a hundred letters of objection from residents. The small group of officials charged with composing a formal statement of reasons for refusal chose to present only two weakly stated ones, from which the council has now retreated. Officials appear to have been intimidated by adverse decisions in two other local appeals. In at least one of these (Birchen Fields), there were clear grounds for requesting a judicial review of the appeal decision. Instead of taking this robust approach, the council has chosen submission.
Taylor Wimpey has now lodged a new planning application for effectively the same scheme. This is a (wholly predictable) manoeuvre to exploit the open goal that the council has offered them, by pushing their scheme through without opposition or the cost of an appeal. The quality of council officials’ judgement in this matter now stands exposed for what it was.
Moreover, the process that produced this situation is wholly unacceptable. The council’s retreat overturns the decision of democratically elected Planning Committee members – a serious matter. At the very least, there should have been a position paper, an open debate and a vote. None of these occurred. Instead, the decision was introduced into a Planning Committee meeting on 7 December under a standing item for “urgent business” and members were “invited to agree”. Taylor Wimpey’s scheme did not even feature as an agenda item. It will not do to excuse this chicanery as the way things are normally done. The democratic deficit speaks for itself.
There is more at issue here than over-development in Lindfield. Any community in Mid Sussex could be undercut in the same way at any time. We urge district councillors to confront and rectify this approach to decision making, which risks making their position as elected representatives appear redundant.
Gil Kennedy, Chairman, Lindfield Preservation Society. (Pho:01444 482 538)
The Society is delighted to report that the District Planning Committee decided at their meeting on 14th July 2016 by a clear 8:4 vote majority to refuse this application for 130 houses on a green field site above Gravelye Lane.
This robust decision, following detailed discussion and consideration by Councillors, Planning Officers and Legal Officers of the issues, will be important in the event that an appeal is lodged, as we are press on to protect the all-important rural backdrop which forms the setting of Lindfield Common and the last remnant of the rural gap between Lindfield and the ancient settlement of Walstead.
Our thanks go to those who took the trouble to create and support the Lindfield Neighbourhood Plan and to make representations to the District Council against the proposal and who were not put off by the fear of failure. The outcome was due entirely to your efforts.
Lindfield has endured 24 months of 32 tonne trucks passing through the High Street (B2028) and the Lewes Road (B2111) on outward and return trips. The situation has become intolerable and we have over 1200 signatures to a petition requiring action. The Lindfield Preservation Society is leading the campaign to reduce the number of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) using local roads to pass through our neighbourhoods.
We are well aware that many of these lorry movements will have been passing through Ardingly, Turners Hill and Crawley Down and that Balcombe, Cuckfield, Sharpthorne and West Hoathly have also been adversely affected.
We have recently written to these and our own Parish Councils and to Community Groups asking them to support our application to WSCC for a Traffic Regulation Order to restrict access to vehicles over 7.5 tonne on all ‘B’ & ‘C’ roads in an area of Mid Sussex enclosed by the M23/A23 to the West, the A272, including the Haywards Heath bypass, to the South, the A275/A22 to the East and the A264/A2220 to the North. Existing width limit signs and weight limit signs would be supplemented by new weight limit signs, almost all positioned along these routes.
Our proposal will oblige HGVs, to use, as advised by WSCC and ESCC, A-Class roads and Motorways unless local access is required. The facts are that the Advisory Routes are being disregarded and that effective signage is needed.
The villages of Copthorne, Hurstpierpoint, Hassocks, Keymer, Ditchling, Wivelsfield Green & Warninglid already have 7.5 tonne exclusion signs except for access & loading. The southern part of Cuckfield is similarly protected but the northern section is currently unprotected. We have none.
Mid Sussex District Council has published its draft District Plan for public consultation. The District Plan will be the council’s main planning document, identifying sites for housing development over the next 16 years. This will be our only opportunity to comment on the plan before the council submits it to the Government Planning Inspectorate for examination. The draft contains significant housing projections for Lindfield: 150 additional dwellings at Gravelye Lane and 50 at Portsmouth Wood Close, which would add 480 residents and 270 cars (in addition to the population growth described below).
In addition, council planners have considered a swathe of large sites stretching from the east around to the north of the village and have declared them “not currently developable” (see maps via links below). Developers and landowners are, however, actively promoting all but one of these sites.
If you are opposed to the further urbanisation of Lindfield, please register your objections with Mid Sussex District Council before the consultation period ends on July 24, 2015.
Please note that objections must be based on objective planning considerations. You may find the following points useful when formulating your comments:
1) Large developments already permitted at Newton Road and Gravelye Lane will swell our population by 1,000, an increase of nearly 20%. This will put nearly 600 more cars onto our roads (figures based on West Sussex County Council population data). Lindfield has already been compelled to accept a level of expansion that is clearly disproportionate to its size and to the capacity of its infrastructure (in particular, roads, educational and health care facilities). Clearly, further large-scale development would add significantly to the erosion of the village’s character and infrastructure.
2) Mid Sussex District Council needs to identify sites for new housing. But a general housing need surely cannot be used to justify building in unsuitable locations. No community should be sacrificed for the sake of making up a housing number.
3) The new sites projected at Gravelye Lane and Portsmouth Wood Close should therefore be removed from the draft District Plan. The sites to the east and north, designated at present as “currently” unsuitable for development, should be excluded categorically. Especially following the current wave of building, the principle governing future construction should be small-scale development only, within the built up area, in order to meet local housing needs and protect the character of the community. Further encroachment on the green fields around the village should be expressly ruled out.
You can also comment on line at the website above or post your remarks to Planning Policy and Economic Development at Mid Sussex District
Council, to arrive by 24 July 2015.
You can view the draft District Plan online at: http://www.midsussex.gov.uk/districtplan
To see the District Council’s maps and assessment of the possible sites in Lindfield go to the Strategic Land Availability Assessment: http://www.midsussex.gov.uk/8307.htm and select the Parish Chapter, Assessed Site Map or Excluded Site Map under Lindfield and Lindfield Rural.
Since the building of the Limes Development, the Society has been pressing for the promised transfer of the Wilderness Field to the ownership of the Parish Council to secure its use for the benefit of the community. The first step in this process, namely the transfer to Mid Sussex District Council, has been unacceptably slow and the fear is that if it is delayed too long it may not happen at all.
Our Chairman has sent the following letter to the Mid Sussex Times to highlight this problem.
We are concerned by the behaviour of the developers Barratt Homes in Lindfield. Barratt has been required by planning condition to hold regular meetings with local residents concerning the housing estate they are building at Gravelye Lane. We have been using these meetings to press them on outstanding business from their last project in the village, “The Limes” estate at Newton Road. Barratt has yet to discharge planning conditions attached to this earlier development. Most notably, they have still not transferred ownership of the adjoining Wilderness Field (thus protecting it from further development) to Mid Sussex District Council. A planning condition required them to do this before half of the units were occupied, a point now well in the past. Repeated requests for them to deal with this and other outstanding issues have met a wall of silence since May 2014. This indicates clearly Barratt’s level of respect for the community in which they are operating.
The current situation is also a failure for Mid Sussex District Council, which self-evidently has not proved capable of enforcing its own planning conditions. Barratt’s large, inappropriate developments are being bolted onto the village because a sufficient number of district councillors chose to ignore vigorous local opposition and voted in favour. We call on these councillors to take responsibility for their actions and to ensure at least that planning conditions are respected.
We also urge neighbours of Barratt’s current development to be vigilant about what is happening near them. The precedents are not encouraging.
Lindfield Preservation Society
In December 2013 the Preservation Society sent an open letter to Lindfield Parish Council about the Draft Neighbourhood Plan. A copy can be seen here.