Newsletter January 2021
2020 has been an extraordinary year and we hope you and your families are safe and well. As you know, we had to cancel our AGM and the talks programme, which we hope to resume later in 2021. Our 2021 AGM is of course dependent on Covid guidelines at the time. We will contact you should it become necessary to postpone it.
The biggest threat now facing the entire southeast is the government’s White Paper, “Planning for the Future”. The new proposals, following a decade of overdevelopment, would grant developers even further license to escape local control. 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 at 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.
It is notable that these proposals have drawn condemnation from across the political spectrum. Media reports now indicate that the government may alter its position at least partially. We encourage all members who have not already done so to contact our MP Mims Davies (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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: planning permission has been granted and works have begun on a site with a well attested history of flooding and land instability. Neighbours of the site were promptly subjected to flooding and 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Haywards Heath Golf Course: Fairfax the developers have withdrawn their application for 725 homes. There are no further developments at the time of writing.
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 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.
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”, is an urban concept entirely out of keeping with the rest of Lindfield’s built environment. The applicants have lodged an appeal, which is likely to result in a public hearing before a government Planning Inspector.
The Society reviewed on the order of 200 planning applications in 2020, taking a public position where we found it appropriate.
Heavy Goods Vehicles in Lindfield: West Sussex County Council Highways department continues to resist an HGV ban (except for access) on Lewes Road between Gravelye Lane and the High Street. The HGV ban 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 will continue to lobby for this measure.
Many charitable causes have suffered considerable financial hardship during the Covid epidemic. The Charities Commission has urged other charities to help where they can. We have accordingly made one-off donations to a small number of local organisations that have continued to provide services to the public in Sussex and which are relevant to our membership and mandate: St Peter and St James Hospice, Lindfield Branch of the Royal British Legion, Lindfield Bonfire Society, Friends of Princess Royal Hospital, Chestnut Tree Children’s Hospice, King Edward Hall, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (Sussex branch).
Our website (www.lindfieldsociety.org.uk) has now been revamped and updated to make it more accessible and informative. Please have a look and also mention it to acquaintances who may be interested in the preservation and sympathetic development of Lindfield.
We were not able to present Conservation and Design Awards in person in 2020, but we recognised two examples of outstanding design by homeowners. We continue to be on the lookout and hope to continue the programme with further awards in 2021.
We look forward to a return to more normal conditions in the coming months. The usual challenges will still be there and we always welcome new members, particularly to our management committee.
We would like to thank you for your support in 2020 and wish you and your families health and happiness in the New Year.