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.