NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 2022
Following consultation with our members and approval at our April AGM, the Society has modified its name from Lindfield Preservation Society to Lindfield Society. We hope that this formulation is more inclusive, encompassing our commitment to sensitive development and improvement as well as preservation. Conserving what makes Lindfield special remains of course our goal.
Lindfield Heritage Trail
We were pleased to launch this initiative in cooperation with the Lindfield History Project Group. The Heritage trail commemorates the Queen’s Jubilee and the Society’s 60th anniversary. An etched metal map at the King Edward Hall marks the start and provides commentary via a QR code linking to our website. Free brochures are also available from High Street retailers and have been distributed to local schools.
We have also been pleased to resume the presentation of Conservation and Design Awards at our annual AGM. These awards acknowledge the efforts of residents who carry out building work with thoughtful design and materials, enhancing both the property and the intrinsic character of the village.
Our annual talks programme at the King Edward Hall is also back in place. Lindfield Life provides details on each event, for example Wednesday, 14 September’s talk on “Wakehurst – Covid and Beyond”.
We have been urging Mid Sussex District Council to undertake a thorough restoration. We are now informed that the council will be making improvements by the autumn, including replacement of the floating island, duck house and pond-side bollards, as well as new planting.
The Welkin: Developers have applied for permission to build on open spaces in this neighbourhood, failing to recognise that green and open spaces form an integral part of the Welkin’s design. The two applications would in our view import urban blight into the heart of the village. We encourage residents to object to Mid Sussex District Council Planning Department, citing application numbers DM/22/1890 (entrance to Green Meadows) and DM/22/1893 (entrance to The Welkin).
Government Planning Legislation: This remains the single greatest threat to our countryside. A “Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill” is currently under development. It would centralise radically how planning decisions are made, giving national development policies the decisive role. There would be no obligation to involve the public in developing these policies. The bill also contains a new mechanism allowing the Secretary of State to grant permission for controversial developments, bypassing the planning system altogether. The public would have no right to be consulted as part of this process. Any protection for communities against overdevelopment – which under current legislation is already feeble at best – is in danger of evaporating.
The past decade has seen planning powers increasingly centralised, resulting in unrealistic housing targets dictated from above and developers being allowed to do largely as they please. This has resulted in unwanted and unneeded speculative housing schemes that disfigure desirable locations while a shortage of truly affordable housing stubbornly persists. More of the same will not do. We urge residents to contact our MP, Mims Davies (firstname.lastname@example.org), asking for her support in resisting the new legislation and further erosion of protection for the public.
NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2022
Government planning legislation continues to pose the single greatest threat of over development for the entire southeast. A White Paper in the autumn of 2020 proposed removing the few protections that remain for communities targeted by speculative developers. Councils would have been compelled to identify land “zoned” for development, where applications would receive automatic approval. A centralised algorithm would have imposed housing targets even less reasonable than the existing ones. Resistance across the political spectrum was so strong that these proposals were quietly paused for further consideration. Recently, there have been warm words from government about prioritising the development of brownfield land instead. This is not, however, what is happening on the ground. Nationally, the proportion sites with planning permission that are brownfield is the lowest since records began: 44% vs 53% last year (November 2021 report by Campaign to Protect Rural England). Developers continue to focus on more profitable, greenfield sites even as these become more vital in addressing the climate and biodiversity crises. Nor, at the time of writing, has the government published any new White Paper to formalise a change of direction. It is very important that all residents who have not yet done so contact our MP Mims Davies (email@example.com) to make their views clear and request her support.
200 houses at Scamps Hill: The developers, Southern Housing Group, announced their intention to begin roadworks in the autumn before having an approved construction management plan. This provision is required and will be important for keeping HGV traffic away from the High Street. Our and others’ representations to Mid Sussex District Council resulted in an official reminder to the developers that work may not begin without such a plan. Planning permission unfortunately has been secured for this scheme, but we can still work to ensure that required procedures are followed to provide a level of protection from its impact. 48 houses off High Beech Lane: Regular flooding of neighbouring streets and properties has accompanied construction works by developers Croudace. This was predictable and indeed predicted, given the history of flooding and land instability in this area. Again, regrettably, planning permission has been granted, so efforts must focus on minimising the negative impact by enlisting the council’s enforcement officers.
Blocks of flats on Tavistock and Summerhill School site: On a more positive note, the applicants’ appeal, following the council’s refusal of permission, was unsuccessful. It is notable that the appeal failed specifically because of the effect the scheme would have had on the “character and appearance of the area”. This precedent should provide protection from blocks of flats in Lindfield.
Heavy Goods Vehicles in Lindfield: the Parish Council has carried out consultation that supports an HGV restriction (except for access) on Lewes Road between Gravelye Lane and the High Street. We look forward to a response from West Sussex County Council during the first quarter of 2020.
The Society was glad to be able to resume its talks programme in the autumn and is proposing some new initiatives, including a heritage trail in the village. We wish all our members health and happiness in the New Year.