The latest stage in the fight to stop Rydon Homes destroying Friars Oak Fields (and, in the process, wrecking Hassocks Parish Council's Neighbourhood Plan) is that with the help of our MP, Nick Herbert, we alerted the government to the fact that there is a clear case for it to 'call in' the planning application, which was approved by Mid Sussex District Council last autumn.
This means that Gavin Barwell MP, the minister for housing, has asked the national Planning Inspectorate to set up a public inquiry. An inspector will hold inquiry meetings over a few days, perhaps as early as this June, at the MSDC offices in Haywards Heath. The inspector will then make a recommendation to the minister (formally, his boss the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) who will decide whether or not to approve Rydon Homes' application.
Local residents are also awaiting the result of a call-in on the nearby Ham Fields application, next to Stonepound. And the golf course housing estate application has been approved and looks like it will be built. We don't need to remind anyone of the dramatic effect on traffic, school places etc of having more than one additional large estate built on London Rd in Hassocks. There is no plan for another local school.
The Friars Oak Fields Residents Association committee is still working hard to fight for what is right. What we are asking residents to do now (by 24 February) is to write to the Planning Inspectorate to make your views clear. Please write to:
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Bristol BS1 6PN
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please quote reference APP/D3830/V/17/3166992
Please say politely and in your own words why you think building on Friars Oak Fields is a bad idea. You might like to mention:
- the increased traffic congestion and pollution - even more traffic would be forced through Stonepound crossroads, which is the only access route to the village and the only pollution blackspot in Mid Sussex with illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide
- the increased risk of flooding to existing properties by constructing an access road that will put a 'dam' across the floodplain
- the increased danger to local children by the estate being built right next to an open rail crossing with an exposed electrified rail, on the other side of the tracks from Hassock's schools, playgrounds and shops
- the fact that there will be nowhere for children from yet another new estate to go to school, and there is no plan for a new school
- the fact that the fields are a surprisingly rare accessible local green space that is much-loved by families, walkers and dog-walkers
- the fact that the site was explicitly rejected by local people in a democratic vote for the Neighbourhood Plan
- the fact that to ignore the Neighbourhood Plan is against the intentions of the government's own Localism Act 2011.