Newsletter July 2020

Despite the extraordinary times, some things never change! Current planning challenges:

HAYWARDS HEATH GOLF CLUB

This widely opposed application for 725 homes has been withdrawn. Given the potentially large profits involved, it would be advisable to view this as a tactical retreat. The would-be developers, having failed to get this site included in Mid Sussex District Council’s last allocation of development sites, are bound to try again. Continuing vigilance will be required.

HIGH BEECH LANE / PORTSMOUTH WOOD CLOSE

The Council has allowed work to resume on the entrance to this site. Croudace, the developers, subsequently submitted a long-required analysis of slope stability. A professional review of this study, commissioned by concerned neighbours, has cast doubt on its reliability. The Council has now commissioned its own independent review of the evidence. There is a well attested history of land instability and flooding in this area.

TAVISTOCK and SUMMERHILL SCHOOL SITE

There are, at the time of writing, no new developments. A highly inappropriate proposal for large blocks of flats was withdrawn in 2018 following widespread opposition. The case officer made a recommendation for refusal of a revised proposal, but solely on the grounds that the applicant had refused to provide for affordable housing or infrastructure contributions. The revised proposal remains a wholly unsuitable urban intrusion into the village environment. The applicants appear to be in negotiation with the Council over finances and we await yet another application. a refusal of permission for 200 dwellings, but the Planning Inspector also recommended refusal. Nonetheless, the then Secretary of State waved the proposal through in 2018. Southern Housing Group has now emerged as the builders and we await their application for detailed planning permission. We will argue for measures to at least soften the impact of this scheme, particularly on traffic and road safety.

There has also been a positive result on the planning front. We would like to congratulate residents who persisted in urging that ownership of the Wilderness Field be transferred to the Parish Council. Vigilance will now be required to ensure that it remains an untrammelled natural space.

We have had to postpone our annual AGM and Design Awards ceremony, but will invite the two award recipients to our 2021 AGM. A tree has been planted on the Common in remembrance of our departed colleague, John Jesson, a true friend of the village. We would like to thank Masters & Son for their generous donation of a memorial plaque.

We wish all our members good health.


Newsletter January 2020

We have continued in 2019 to be engaged in a number of planning issues. In 2018, the Secretary of State for Housing overruled both Mid Sussex District Council and a Government Planning Inspector’s appeal decision by granting permission to Wates the developers for 200 homes south of Scamps Hill. No construction has taken place at the time of writing, but we will continue to monitor the situation with a view at least to limiting the impact on the community. The Secretary’s decision is a very unfortunate demonstration of government planning policy, which remains heavily weighted in favour of development at any cost.

Another speculative application for 43 dwellings off High Beech Lane received outline planning permission in 2017. There was widespread opposition at the time, due largely to serious questions about land stability and flood risk in the area. Conditions were at least attached to the planning permission requiring analysis of these risks. Subsequently, the Council has granted detailed “reserved matters” planning permission, despite the fact that no such studies have been produced and despite four other planning conditions being breached. We are pressing for an independent evaluation and publication of the developers’ risk analysis, if and when it appears.

The saga of proposed development on the site of the former Tavistock and Summerhill School continued in 2019. Following withdrawal of the original application for a large complex of blocks of flats and “townhouses”, a slightly modified version has emerged. It remains an urban concept entirely out of keeping with Lindfield’s character. We continue to urge that planning permission be refused.

A scheme for a very large development on the site of Haywards Heath Golf Club is at the time of writing in abeyance. The District Council has named the site an Asset of Community Value, which provides some protection, but that status now seems to be in doubt. It is in any case clear that the would-be developers will not give up. Vigilance will be required here.

We reviewed 120 planning applications over the year, taking a public position where we considered it appropriate.

The Society launched a programme of design awards in 2019. We were pleased to recognise the efforts of three households who have carried out building work using thoughtful design and materials that contribute to the sympathetic development of Lindfield. Certificates commending good craftsmanship and design will continue to be awarded at our annual AGM.

We expect 2020 to be another challenging year. We always welcome new members and in particular new participants on our management committee.

We would like to thank you all for your support in 2019 and wish you a happy and peaceful New Year.

The Society entered a decorated “tree” in the Community Orchard project organised by the Arts Festival in autumn 2018. It certainly was not the most artistic effort, but we believe it represented what the Society was all about – involvement in planning applications that are detrimental to the look and feel of the village. Our aim is to promote and encourage the sympathetic development of the village and preserve the trees and hedgerows surrounding it.