Wednesday, 16 December 2015

OBJECT BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE - A large housing estate on Friars Oak Fields Hassocks is unsustainable - and not only because it's a floodplain

Rydon Homes is going ahead with its application to build a 137-home, 405-bedroom housing estate on Friars Oak Fields, Hassocks, and Mid Sussex District Council may be asked to approve the proposal early in 2016.
If you think this is the wrong place to build a large expansion of the village, the time to act is NOW. If councillors approve it, residents have no right of appeal.The ‘outline’ nature of the application means that the developer could well change or enlarge their proposal at a later date.  Friars Oak Fields Residents Association has urged councillors to reject it for a number of serious reasons – not because of Nimbyism or a refusal to accept change, but because:
  • It is strongly opposed by Hassocks residents and the parish council, and was explicitly rejected as a housing site in the Neighbourhood Plan, which is in an advanced stage of development. Indeed, the parish council wishes to award Local Green Space status to the fields. To approve the application would be an injustice that would make a mockery of local democracy.
  • It is impossible to justify given the recent decision of the planning inspector in respect of nearby Ham Fields. Exactly the same issues arise, including the air quality management area (AQMA) at polluted Stonepound, and the local planning gap protecting Hassocks. Rydon aims to get around the AQMA problem by delaying availability of the planned housing until 2019, because it claims that by then pollution will have reduced to legal levels; an extraordinary claim that it cannot prove.
  • It is on a floodplain and its design would actually cause an increased risk of flooding for existing properties on adjacent Shepherds Walk, as well as damaging the ecology of the Herring Stream.
  • It would put further unacceptable strain on oversubscribed local schools and health services, as the application makes no provision for either.
  • It would increase traffic congestion, there being only one road crossing point on the railway for several miles.
  • It is right next to a dangerous open foot crossing over the London-Brighton main railway line. Rydon makes the incredible claim that putting a 137-home estate on the other side of the railway from the village’s schools, shops and bulk of housing will only increase foot crossings by 0.26 crossings per day.
  • It is a surprisingly rare area of accessible green space for the well-being of local families, walkers and dog-walkers, and is a haven for wildlife.
  • It would be too far out from the village centre to do anything but damage the cohesion and identity of the village, and further increase car journeys to the centre of Hassocks and make commuter parking around streets near the station even worse.
To find out more about the application and Friars Oak Fields Residents Association’s objections to it, follow this link: 'related documents', then 'view associated documents', then ‘date received’ to put the documents in date order; the documents from FOFRA are dated 12/10/2015.
If the link above does not work, search online for ‘Mid Sussex District Council online planning register’, enter reference ‘DM/15/0626’, click ‘related documents’, then ‘view associated documents’, then ‘date received’.You can make your views known by emailing the council case officer, It is not yet known when the plan will be considered by the district planning committee, but it could be in early 2016. A list of committee members is here: the residents association on - Follow us on Twitter @FriarsOakFieldsPLEASE NOTE A NEW PLANNING APPLICATION FOR HAM FIELDS NEARBY HAS ALSO BEEN SUBMITTED - SEE THE MID SUSSEX COUNCIL PLANNING WEBSITE DM/15/4609 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

It's not too late to vote!

If you missed the public consultation meetings on 10th & 11th July, you still have until midday on 17th July to vote against Friars Oak Fields being developed in the Hassocks Parish Council Neighbourhood Plan site selection poll.

How you can vote:
Either, vote online here:

Or, download, print and fill in a paper copy of the response form from here
and return it to the Parish Council Office, Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks, BN6 8QH

If you feel passionately that Friars Oak Fields should not be built on, you may wish to consider the following when voting:
(a)   Rank Friars Oak Fields (Site number 9  “Land to north of Shepherds Walk”) at 15th (i.e. bottom) or as near to 15th as possible. (Do not confuse it with site number 16 “Land north of Friars Oak” although you may wish to rank site number 16 as near to 14th as possible because it adjoins Friars Oak Fields.)
(b)   Rank the other sites according to your personal opinion, but above Friars Oak Fields.

1)     Rank all sites – the Parish Council have not said what happens if you leave any sites unranked.
2)     You must assign a different ranking to each site; do not rank two or more sites the same.
3)     You must put your name and postal address on your vote otherwise it will not be counted.
4)     Make sure everyone in your household votes individually.
5)     Please consider the information on all fifteen sites provided by Hassocks Parish Council when deciding your rankings.
6)     Be aware there is no funding to build a school on Land to north of Shepherds Walk (site number 9).


Saturday, 27 June 2015

Important briefing on 4th July 10:00 am

Could all residents who wish to protect Friars Oak Fields please attend the Friars Oak Fields Residents Association meeting at 10:00 am sharp on Saturday 4th July 2015 at St Francis Church Hall, Priory Road, Hassocks. We will be providing an update on the planning application, and information about the Neighbourhood Plan public consultation event scheduled for 10th & 11th July.
See you there!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Do Rydon Homes REALLY want to bulldoze this?

Spring has arrived in Friars Oak Fields, and while the Rydon Homes planning application is being considered by Mid Sussex District Council, the blossom is amazing on the hedgerows all around the fields. A kestrel was hunting in the fields this evening; I saw it stoop several times, pouncing on prey on the ground, so obviously plenty of it about.

Hedgerow blossom

Hedgerow blossom

Evening kestrel
Sea of dandelion
Meadow flower

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Six reasons why residents back Hassocks parish council’s decision to oppose a housing estate on Friars Oak Fields

·        It would generate even more traffic: Hassocks does not have the road infrastructure to cope – there is only one road across the railway for four miles between Clayton and Burgess Hill. This goes through congested Stonepound, an official air quality management area, requiring Mid Sussex District Council to take action to improve the air quality, not make it worse.

·         It would be built on land which is clearly inside the MSDC Local Plan’s Strategic Gap separating Burgess Hill from Hassocks. Building there will go against the council’s stated aim of building coherent communities and preventing ‘coalescence’. That, and the fact that Rydon want to get their application approved before local planning processes have been completed, means they are trying to make fools of everyone who thinks local democracy is a good thing.

·         Its site is well-known to be at risk of flooding from ground water and/or the stream that runs through it. Southern Water has said there is ‘inadequate capacity in the local network … The proposed development would increase flows … and existing properties and land may be subject to a greater risk of flooding’.

·         It is right next to a rail foot crossing that experts think is extremely dangerous, especially for children. Hundreds of fast trains go through it every day, and the lethal live electric rail is just a few feet from the path. Building 140 homes at Friars Oak will mean a massive increase in usage of the crossing. Will the developers pay for a bridge? Don’t bet on it.    

·         It is a haven for wildlife, from birds to deer. Why destroy it? Rydon even wants to divert the stream, described by Sussex Wildlife Trust as flowing from ‘one of the best chalk streams in Sussex’. The fields have been freely used by local families as accessible green space (a surprisingly rare thing in the area) for decades.

·         It would put even more pressure on Hassocks’ over-subscribed schools and health services. Where would families from a new estate send their children? Burgess Hill? Why build in Hassocks, then?

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Housing estate on Friars Oak Fields? Make your views known by 27 March

We only have until 27 March to think about what a large housing estate planned for London Road, in addition to possible sites at Ham Fields and the golf course, would mean for Hassocks. After that it might be too late to stop it.

Rydon Homes wants to build 140 homes on several fields stretching north and east from the Friars Oak pub, and they have applied before the parish council has got its neighbourhood plan sorted, as the fields could then be officially designated as local green space.

You may say ‘but the south-east needs more homes, and anyway it would be good for local businesses’, and up to a point that is true. But many people think Hassocks is a daft place to build lots more houses. Why? Because our schools and health services are full, having already been expanded after the Clayton Mills estate was built. And because there’s only one road across the railway, causing congestion at peak times at Stonepound – Mid Sussex’s only official pollution blackspot (air quality management area).

Even if you do think Hassocks needs a lot more homes, building on Friars Oak Fields just doesn’t make sense, unless of course you are the landowner or the developer (developers love green-field sites, because they’re cheaper to build on).

Why not build on Friars Oak Fields? Because they flood; they’re accessible green space that have been used by families for decades; they’re a haven for wildlife; they’re next to a dangerous rail pedestrian crossing; they form part of the gap that separates the village from Burgess Hill, helping make Hassocks a coherent community. And because doing so will put even more pressure on London Rd and Stonepound; many more people will drive to work or to the station, and many of the kids from a new estate would be driven to school (that’s if they get a school place in Hassocks; if they don’t, that destroys the district council’s stated aim of building coherent communities).
So, please, search online for Mid Sussex online planning register, look up DM/15/0626 and use the comment button to tell the council what you think, by Friday 27 March.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Rydon submits outline planning application for 140-home estate on local green space

Rydon Homes has submitted an application to Mid Sussex District Council:
'Hybrid planning application comprising outline application for access only for residential development of 140 dwellings consisting of 12no. 1 bed apartments, 30no. 2 bed houses, 51no. 3 bed houses and 47no. 4 bed houses and associated access, together with change of use of part of land to form country open space.'
This is in respect of their proposal to build 140 homes on Friars Oak Fields, off London Road, Hassocks. The fields are a haven for wildlife that has been accessible to the public for decades. They flood regularly. Access to the village’s shops and schools will be almost entirely by car via the already-congested Stonepound crossroads, the only official air pollution blackspot in Mid Sussex. The houses will be next to a dangerous rail footpath that crosses the London-Brighton main line. All in all, you might think it’s a crazy place to build a big housing estate. You have until 27 March to make your views known.
See, ref DM/15/0626. Keep your eyes on and for news and views.

Monday, 2 February 2015

There is still time for you to make your voice heard!

If you missed the Neighbourhood Plan consultation events on 30th and 31st January 2015, you still have time to have your say on where housing developments in Hassocks should go. Hassocks Parish Council has made the questionnaire and all the informational documents available online on their website here:
You can download a copy of the questionnaire and fill it out.
Please be aware that the Council's documents refer to Friars Oak Fields as "Land to the north Shepherds Walk", should you wish to object to the development of Friars Oak Fields.
The deadline for returning completed questionnaires is Friday 13th Febuary 2015.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

This is it, the time for your voice to count!

Please attend the vital consultation taking place this weekend.

*Neighbourhood Plan Consultation*
Friday 30 January 7.15pm for 7.30pm - 9.30pm
Saturday 31 January 10.15am for 10.30am - 12.30pm
At: Downlands Community School, Dale Avenue, Hassocks BN6 8LP
Both meetings will commence with a short presentation on the key aspects of producing a Neighbourhood Plan. You will have the opportunity to share your views on possible development in the village and to indicate where you consider any future development should take place in Hassocks.
Every voice and opinion counts, so go as a family and please make sure your neighbours know about this event and how vitally important it is that we all attend this consultation. The more objections against development of the Friars Oak Fields means the more chance we have of saving our wonderful fields for all of the community to enjoy.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Oaks View Hassocks announced

Rydon Homes, a property development company, held a public exhibition in Hassocks on 16th & 17th January 2015, to announce their intention to turn the whole of Friars Oak Fields into a housing development named Oaks View Hassocks. If this goes ahead it would result in Friars Oak Fields being lost in their entirety forever.
This is a disasterous turn of events for the residents of Hassocks. How on earth can a property developer be permitted to destroy such an area of natural beauty, and tear away this unique and rare amenity from our community?