Adoption of Mid Sussex site allocations plan reconfirmed

Mid Sussex District Council has reaffirmed its decision to adopt a planning document laying out sites for 1,704 homes.
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The Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD), which includes a science and technology park to the west of Burgess Hill and seven employment sites, was originally adopted in June.

But a legal challenge was launched by the South of Folders Lane Action Group, with Robert Eggleston (Lib Dem – Burgess Hill, Meeds) issuing a Letter of Claim challenging the decision on the basis that there had been an error in law.

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The challenge centred around two documents – a Sustainability Appraisal and a summary of public consultation responses – which were not attached to the June report and only provided in link form.

Land south of Folders Lane, Burgess Hill has been one of the most controversial allocations in the DPDLand south of Folders Lane, Burgess Hill has been one of the most controversial allocations in the DPD
Land south of Folders Lane, Burgess Hill has been one of the most controversial allocations in the DPD

It was felt that councillors had not been specifically directed to read either document.

While the council’s legal advisers felt all members had access to all the relevant documents, an Extraordinary Meeting was held on Wednesday (August 10) to ‘avoid unnecessary expense to the taxpayers’.

During the meeting, Mr Eggleston tabled an amendment calling on the council to ask Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, to revoke the DPD.

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Speaking after the meeting he said: “I wanted to make it clear that I was not against plan-making or the District Plan or the need for a five-year land supply.

“But what I was against was the add-on to the District Plan – the Site Allocation DPD – which was no longer fit for purpose.

“The passing of the Environment Act and the start of a further review of the District Plan – involving potentially an additional 7,000 homes – has changed the development landscape in such a way that it was right that we look at the Site Allocation DPD again.”

The amendment was rejected – a decision which Mr Eggleston said would mean that ‘some parts of Mid Sussex will get a lower level of environmental protection than others’.

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Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Leader of Mid Sussex District Council said: “The Secretary of State’s Inspector was satisfied the Site Allocations Development Plan Document was legally compliant. Revoking the entire DPD would be a completely disproportionate response.

“It would leave Mid Sussex without a Plan that demonstrates the District can meet its housing need, and would remove the protections we have in place against speculative development, as the Council would have to re-start all the work we have done over the last three years at great cost to the taxpayer.

“It is rarely the case that everyone agrees on every site in a Plan. But the only way to keep Mid Sussex special and avoid a developer led free for all is to have a Plan in place and to keep it updated.”

Mr Eggleston said: “My fear for sites such as the land south of Folders Lane is that the development plan will only add pressure for more development in an already environmentally sensitive area.

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“I have no doubt that developers will continue to circle the land south of Folders Lane looking for further opportunities for development and, unfortunately, the plan-making process that [the council] has embarked on has done nothing to restrict the developers’ ambitions.”