Detailed plans for 500-home Hassocks development reluctantly approved

The design and layout of 500 homes which will be built on the edge of Hassocks have been approved by Mid Sussex District Council.

Proposed appearance
Proposed appearance

The decision, for the development off of Ockley Lane, was made during a meeting of the planning committee on Thursday (December 16) – but was by no means unanimous.

Questions were asked about the sustainability of the site, with some councillors worried that not enough was being done to make it energy efficient.

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Speaking at the meeting, Benedict Dempsey (Lib Dem, Hassocks) said developer Taylor Wimpey was ‘aiming to meet minimum standards rather than striving for the excellence that should be expected’.

Proposed layout of the 500-home Hassocks development

He asked why no solar panels or air source heat pumps had been included and why gas boilers would be installed when they are expected to be banned from new developments from 2025.

Mr Dempsey called the development ‘deeply unpopular and controversial’ and said its inclusion in the district plan had been ‘rushed through over a three-month period to help meet the five-year housing land supply’.

He added: “The controversial nature of this development means that it’s even more important that it’s delivered to the highest possible standards.”

Nick Owens, of Hassocks Parish Council, had similar concerns, calling for conditions to be added to the planning consent to make the new homes more sustainable.

As well as the use of heat pumps, he also wanted all 500 homes built to the LETI climate emergency design guide standards, and asked Taylor Wimpey to employ a Passivhaus designer to monitor the quality of the build.

The committee was told that these requests would not be considered reasonable under current planning policy.

A spokesman for Taylor Wimpey told the meeting that some 80 per cent of the new homes were expected to meet new building regulations due to come into effect in June, which will have to be applied to homes started after June 2023.

Pointing out that the regulations were likely to require renewable energy technology such as solar panels and air source heat pumps, he added: “The reality is the development will achieve a far greater CO2 reduction over current regulations than what was approved at the outline planning consent.”

The committee approved the application by eight votes to four – though it was a somewhat reluctant approval for some.

Adam Peacock (Con, East Grinstead – Herontye) pointed out that Taylor Wimpey had met the planning policies, legislation and building regulations currently required.

H said: “I think where we are now, we admit they’ve exceeded the minimum.

“Though it’s not ideal, recognising building regulations will be updated next year – and they will have to meet those new building regulations – I can’t see really see what else we can do.”

Anne Eves (Green, Burgess Hill – Leylands) said she liked the layout of the development and the fact some existing hedgerows would be maintained.

But she warned that the decision not to include solar panels would leave future owners facing large bills later down the line.

The committee was only asked to decide on the design and layout of the homes.

An application covering the primary school and community building, which also form part of the development, is expected to be submitted at a later date.