‘Shock and alarm’ at new Mid Sussex housing bombshell

The proposed locations of thousands of extra new homes across Mid Sussex have been revealed by the district council.

A review of the district plan could allocate new strategic sites for 1,600 homes at Ansty, 1,400 homes west of Burgess Hill and 1,850 homes in Sayers Common.

A total of 21 other smaller sites are also proposed totalling 1,562 homes.

The council’s site selection process has also identified land at Crabbet Park near Copthorne as potentially able to deliver 1,000 homes over the plan period up to 2038.

Map showing proposed site allocations in red, with significant new developments proposed in Ansty, Sayers Common and west of Burgess Hill

According to officers: “The site selection process has robustly justified the conclusions for each site. Further in-combination testing has also demonstrated that (particularly in sustainability and transport terms) meeting Mid Sussex need alone will not be without challenges that will need to be resolved as the plan progresses.

“The council is confident that it has explored and maximised its opportunities to contribute towards unmet need and that the benefits of increasing this contribution would be significantly outweighed by adverse impacts.”

The next steps could see a public consultation launched on the draft plan in February for six weeks.

It will first be considered by a council scrutiny committee on Wednesday (January 19).

Proposed allocation south of Reeds Lane, Sayers Common

The Lib Dems are already calling for the Conservatives to oppose ‘catastrophic’ plans for the Hurstpierpoint, Sayers Common and Albourne area.

They say the proposals would see 3,800 additional homes built across the three settlements – more than doubling the number of homes in the area by 2038.

And they go onto say the plans are ‘proof the national planning system is completely broken’ and want urgent reform ‘so that our communities can no longer be held to ransom by large developer corporations’.

Rodney Jackson, a district councillor for Hurstpierpoint and Downs, who has lived in the village for 54 years, said: “I am shocked and alarmed at the incredible number of dwellings proposed west and north of Hurstpierpoint on mainly greenfield land. Separate village communities will end up in an urban sprawl. It is totally unsustainable, with completely inadequate transport links and other infrastructure.

Broad location to the west of Burgess Hill proposed for 1,400 homes

“I am incredulous that anyone could think it is fair and proper to allocate huge numbers of houses in one corner of the district, rather than sharing them fairly across Mid Sussex.

“This really is a kick in the teeth for everyone here. Over the last ten years our villages have done everything right: following the rules, making neighbourhood plans, and ensuring that hundreds of new homes have been built to try to tackle the housing crisis. We have acted in good faith. That trust in the planning process will be destroyed if these proposals go ahead.”

Mid Sussex Liberal Democrat group leader Alison Bennett, who also represents Hurstpierpoint and Downs, added: “These astonishing proposals are proof positive that the Conservatives’ planning system at national level is simply broken. The system leaves communities at the mercy of private housing developers.

“Local Conservatives have frequently held up Hurstpierpoint as a model for how to engage with the planning system. Despite that, the area could now be clobbered with thousands of houses that will be unsuitable, unsustainable, and unaffordable for many in our community.

Proposed location for new development at Ansty Farm, Cuckfield Road, Ansty

“It is not just Hurstpierpoint, Sayers Common and Albourne that will be stunned by the proposal to build huge developments on green field sites: a further 1600 houses are planned between Cuckfield and the small hamlet of Ansty. It is clear that in order to hit central government housing targets, MSDC has had to throw the policies in its 2018 District Plan into the bin and accept proposals that have previously been judged unacceptable.

“Liberal Democrats agree that we need more homes, but we want to build them by empowering and funding local authorities and social housing providers who can provide the housing people need – not by relying entirely on large private developers whose primary interest is profit.

“Today, we are calling on Andrew Griffith MP, Mims Davies MP, County Councillor Joy Dennis and all District Councillors to make clear that they oppose these catastrophic proposals.

“We invite them to join us in calling on the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, to implement urgent reforms that give power over planning back to communities and local authorities.”

The MSDC District Plan was adopted in 2018 and runs to 2031 and the Government requires that Plans must be updated every five years so that housing need is met, and policies remain relevant and effective. MSDC says it must adopt an updated District Plan by 2023 otherwise it will be considered out of date.

Robert Salisbury, cabinet member for housing and planning, argued that without an approved district plan they would lose control over new planning applications and leave themselves vulnerable to developers pursuing speculative housing developments.

Proposed development site at Crabbet Park near Copthorne

He added: “The standard method for housing need as laid out in Government policy sets the required number of new homes in Mid Sussex up to 2038 at around 18,500. Of these about 11,500 are already planned for in the District Plan, the Site Allocatiosn DPD, and Neighbourhood Plans.

“This means that the new plan must identify sites to meet at least 7,000 new homes. The method for selecting sites to be allocated has been via a transparent and robust site selection process.”

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Lib Dems Alison Bennett and Rodney Jackson