7 March 2020 – News update

Mid Sussex District Council have published their second version of the Site Allocations DPD, but all the valid objections to Sites SA12 & SA13 have been ignored.

We are disappointed, but not surprised, to see that MSDC have ignored the indisputable case against the selection of Sites SA12 & SA13 for development.  Thank you for making your objections.  There were over 800 of them in the first round of consultation against the inclusion of Folders Lane sites. Despite this, and even though there is now a live planning application for a more suitable and sustainable alternative at Haywards Heath Golf Course, MSDC are proposing to rubber stamp their original proposal at their Scrutiny Committee meeting on Wednesday.

As well as your objections, Burgess Hill Town Council, Haywards Heath Town Council, Lewes & Eastbourne BC, Ditchling Parish Council, CPRE Sussex, Sussex Wildlife Trust, South Downs National Park, Historic England, and The Woodland, Flora & Fauna Group all made strong representations against the MSDC proposals.  We were shocked that MSDC not only disregarded these, but, at the last Scrutiny Committee, they misleadingly announced that there were “NO OBJECTIONS FROM NEIGHBOURING AUTHORITIES”.
Their consultation called for your “comments” on the sites, but your opinion clearly doesn’t matter. For the hundreds of local residents who know the area, and the ecological damage and traffic chaos that would result, MSDC have ignored you all. They have their own agenda to push through and it feels like MSDC lie about, or ignore, any inconvenient truths presented to them.

What congested junction at Keymer Road/ Folders Lane?

SYSTRA, the MSDC appointed traffic surveyors, can’t (or have been told not to) see it, so therefore it doesn’t exist...”
What protected bats, birds and reptiles in a precious ancient field system?

According to the developers, apparently covering it in houses will “increase diversity.” It’s only Burgess Hill, after all…
This whole thing stinks and we can assure you SOFLAG will not give up. This feels like a pre-determined decision by MSDC, and we believe, we can show that the process has been incorrectly managed and is unsound.  
SOFLAG has a strong case, and all of the facts, and evidence, will be explicitly detailed for the Government Inspector during the second and last round of consultation. Those responsible, or indeed, complicit can expect to be called to account.


And then there’s Clayton Mills…
  The Clayton Mills site in Hassocks has now been formally granted planning permission for 500 new homes.  So, sadly, this will go ahead.  There is only one access road to this massive new estate: Ockley Lane.  Hundreds of cars will use it every day, many heading straight towards Burgess Hill via the already frequently gridlocked Keymer Road / Folders Lane junction.  

 What can you do? 

I know you’re all busy but it really is important that we work together and keep the pressure up. 

If you do have a spare few minutes, there are two ways you can help this week: 

  1. Support the Haywards Heath Golf Course Planning Application

Point out that there is now a suitable, sustainable and available site, that would deliver 725 new homes at Haywards Heath Golf Club.  You can do this by supporting the current planning application by clicking here and stating, preferably in your own words, that:

  • The site is available, sustainable and being actively promoted
  • It is on brownfield land and would save other potential greenfield sites
  • It will not lead to a massive loss of wildlife habitat, unlike other greenfield sites
  • It would not affect the South Downs National Park or reduce the strategic gaps as would be the case with other potential sites
  • Infrastructure would be provided which is not the case with other potential sites
  • Road safety would be improved with the provision of a new section of road being provided and access would not be a problem
  • The provision of 218 much needed affordable homes cannot be ignored
  1. Come and witness the next Scrutiny Committee Meeting

Wednesday 11th March 7pm, Haywards Heath
  It would also be fantastic if some of you could come along to the MSDC Scrutiny Committee meeting this Wednesday at 7pm.  It’s at the MSDC Council Chamber, Oaklands Rd, Haywards Heath RH16 1SS. 

We’re sure you’ll be shocked at the cavalier attitude of some of the councillors.  It’s the first issue on the agenda, so you won’t need to be there too long.  However, a show of local community attendance will put pressure on the councillors to reconsider – they notice when there’s a crowd in the public gallery!

and finally…

… SOFLAG is working on a number of fronts to continue the fight to protect the fields to the south of Folders Lane.  We are pursuing a number of Freedom of Information requests from MSDC.  The more they resist giving us the information we seek, the more we’re certain they have something to hide.  More of this in our next newsletter, but they really don’t want you to know how they operate.  They’re happy to throw away your money in pursuing their own politically motivated ends. 

In addition, we are building up our dossier on the developers who are intent on building on the fields.  We know they are only out to maximise their profits, as they have shown by their past behaviours and the ecological damage they have caused elsewhere.

Finally, we are working on a traffic study that we know will demonstrate the one carried out by SYSTRA on behalf of MSDC is utterly flawed. 

We will, of course, be attending the MSDC Scrutiny Committee meeting on Wednesday.  We have, in advance, contacted the members of that Committee explaining why we believe the Haywards Heath Golf Club site is more suitable for development, and pointing out the flaws in the site selection process so far.

Apologies for the length of this Newsletter, but we’re now at such a critical stage, we rely more than ever on your support.  We are certain this whole process has been ‘unsound’ and are prepared to prove it in order to ensure the local community gets the level of development that is right and proper.

Thank you for your support!

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