PLANNING UPDATE

November 2020

Government White Paper threatens to fuel overdevelopment

The biggest planning issue facing the entire southeast is the recent White Paper, “Planning for the Future”. The new proposals, following a decade of overdevelopment, would grant developers even further license to escape local control. It is notable that these proposals have drawn condemnation from across the political spectrum, including the parliamentary Conservative party.

We would point out three areas in which the proposals are fundamentally flawed:

1) They would create a zonal planning system, in which applications based on pre-approved “design codes” receive automatic approval. This would eliminate a whole stage of local oversight, increasing the likelihood of unsuitable building schemes.

2) They would establish a centralised algorithm to impose higher housing targets on local authorities. This would be a best a very blunt instrument that would be blind to local geography, ecology and building patterns.

3) The centrally imposed targets would be entirely unrealistic. The new housing target for Mid Sussex, for example, would be 1,305 units per year – 72% above current build rates. The imposition of such an implausible requirement would only ensure that the local authority remains in default, making us even more vulnerable to speculative schemes.

A consultation period on these proposals has now ended. Media reports indicate that the government may alter its position at least partially.

We encourage all residents who have not already done so to contact our MP Mims Davies (mims.davies.mp@parliament.uk) to make their views clear and to request her support. The Society’s open letter to Ms Davies is available for reference on our website under Latest News.

Croudace scheme for 48 houses off High Beech Lane

Works have now begun on a site with a history of flooding and land instability. Mid Sussex District Council appears to have satisfied itself that the developers have responded adequately to the risks. Concerns have remained, however, and the weekend of 14 – 15 November saw unprecedented flooding in this area. Residents have called on the Council to issue a stop order halting construction until an independent, expert analysis can find a permanent solution.

Haywards Heath Golf Course:

Fairfax the developers withdrew their application for 725 homes earlier this year. This is likely to be a tactical withdrawal only, given the potential profits from a scheme of this size. We can expect the developers to continue their efforts to have the golf course added to the District Council’s list of approved sites for development. Vigilance will be required.

200 houses at Scamps Hill

Southern Housing Group announced in June its intention to build 200 dwellings south of Scamps Hill and subsequently submitted a detailed (“reserved matters”) planning application. Regrettably, the Secretary of State gave outline planning permission to Wates in 2018, so development in some form will take place. There is some irony in a charitable housing trust carrying out this unwarranted assault on our community. The Society has objected, although we are limited now to commenting on the details of the scheme.

We encourage residents to object to the case officer (Steve.Ashdown@midsussex.gov.uk) before 3 December 2020, the determination deadline. Our submission is attached for reference.

Blocks of flats on Tavistock and Summerhill School site

There was a victory for common sense in August when a Planning Committee refused permission for this scheme. The proposal, comprising 34 flats and four “town houses”, was an urban concept entirely out of keeping with the rest of Lindfield’s built environment. An appeal is of course possible.

Heavy Goods Vehicles in Lindfield

West Sussex County Council Highways department continues to resist an HGV ban (except for access) from Lewes Road between Gravelye Lane and the High Street. This seems to us to be an entirely sensible proposal that would largely remove the temptation for hauliers to use Lindfield as a short cut to and from sites farther east. We, the Parish Council and other concerned residents will continue to lobby for this measure.

West Sussex County Council is currently conducting a survey on transport planning (until 17 December 2020) at www.westsussex.gov.uk/WSTPsurvey. You can support our efforts by completing the survey and stressing the need for an HGV exclusion.