Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Mid Sussex Planning Committee votes to allow Rydon Homes' application

Councillors on the Mid Sussex planning committee made a shameful decision on 13 October. To shouts of disbelief from the public gallery, they decided to pass an application by Rydon Homes to build an estate on lovely Friars Oak Fields, Hassocks. 

Many people will think: so what - houses need to be built and they have to go somewhere, don't they? 

But why require parish councils to spend tens of thousands of pounds on Neighbourhood Plans and then ignore them? 

Hassocks' NP named Friars Oak Fields as local green space, and allocated other areas as more suitable sites for homes. Local residents voted heavily against Friars Oak Fields being a housing site because they are a notorious floodplain, are next to a dangerous unmanned rail crossing, and are a much-loved area of local green space. 

The NP is nearly complete, at 'examination' stage, yet councillors decided it 'carries little weight', as planning jargon has it. Why? Because the same councillors have for several years now left Mid Sussex completely exposed to over-development. They have failed to produce a '5-year housing land supply document' and to prepare a sound District Plan, so under our current government's planning law, there is a 'presumption of development'. 

In fact, councillors can refuse unsuitable developments if their 'adverse impacts' would 'significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits'. The adverse impacts of building a large estate on the other side of the railway from the village's schools, shops and main park include the danger of children getting hurt on the dangerous, open foot crossing. Furthermore, building an elevated access road from London Rd to a new estate will obviously create a barrier to the flooding that results every winter from the Herring Stream and from groundwater. This dam will put existing housing at higher risk of flooding. 

Furthermore, the Rydon application makes no provision whatsoever for a desperately-needed new school. It can only ensure that yet more rush-hour traffic goes through Stonepound, which is Mid Sussex's only official pollution blackspot. 

How much more unsustainable do estates have to be before they are rejected?