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?