450 extra homes on updated Mid Sussex District Plan to ‘strike a balance’

Planning application
Planning application

The long awaited District Plan for Mid Sussex has been updated to add 450 extra new homes to the rejected 2013 version.

Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) has published the plan which proposes 11,050 new homes until 2031, up from 10,600 in the last version.

It will be considered by the council’s scrutiny committee for planning and economic development on March 3. MSDC hopes the plan will be in place next year.

The council believes this plan ‘strikes a balance’.

Councillor Garry Wall, leader of the council (pictured), said: “Seeking a balance between sustainable growth and protecting our precious natural environment goes to the heart of our plan.”

Previously 17,000 homes were proposed for Mid Sussex.

Cllr Wall said: “There’s an overwhelming desire to build homes in the country. We want development on our terms, we believe we can add 450 in 17 years, it’s miles and miles away from 17,000.”

THRUST IS UNCHANGED

MSDC said the plan reflects up to date data on population, household trends and national guidance, but its thrust is unchanged from the 2013 version.

Judy Holmes, MSDC assistant chief executive, said: “We believe it is more robust, we believe we have been clear about what we can deal with and what we can’t deal with, and what will push us over the edge.

“We want to make sure we get it absolutely right, and we believe we have given it the best chance. It’s about balance, we can only build if sites are available.”

The updated plan aims to support sustainable growth and jobs whilst also protecting the environment and ecology of the district.

It aims to facilitate 650 new homes every year compared to an assessed need of 627.

The council stated: “This shows the Council is positive about a sensible level of new housing and employment space to support jobs, the economy and the needs of neighbouring areas.”

The 11,050 new homes includes 5,500 that already have planning permission.

A total of 3,500 new homes are planned in Burgess Hill, supported by £17m government funding to upgrade the A2300.

The remaining new homes will come from the natural growth of villages as outlined in Neighbourhood Plans.

FORERUNNER

Councillor Norman Webster, portfolio holder for planning, said: “We have been a forerunner in supporting a bottom up approach to planning through Neighbourhood Plans. We remain committed to this approach.

“The town councils and the parish councils, every single one is producing a plan. We have gone out of our way to support them.

“One has been accepted and six are close. We have got all that evidence to back up our decision.”

CONSTRAINTS

The council has worked to improve understanding of its constraints.

With 60 per cent of the district covered by the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, significant areas of ancient woodland and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, there are many restrictions on where building can take place.

“We are custodians of our beautiful environment,” cllr Webster added.

“We need to preserve what we have. We must protect it for future generations whilst also ensuring our economy remains buoyant.

“It’s homes are that we are dealing with, it’s people’s lives and their families. In the future they need places to live.”

Cllr Webster admitted the 2013 plan ‘didn’t demonstrate we understood the needs of our neighbours and of meeting their needs and our needs’.

“Now we have done that thoroughly,” he explained.

The plan does not support the development of a new market town in the Sayers Common area as promoted by Mayfield Market Towns.

“We have consistently viewed the proposals from Mayfield as wholly inappropriate”, Cllr Webster said.

“Our emphasis is on supporting sustainable growth which is in turn supported by local communities. Mayfield’s proposals have never passed either test.”

Once the plan has been considered by the Scrutiny Committee on March 3 and full Council on March 18, a final public consultation will run in early summer and then submitted for Public Examination.

Cllr Wall said he is keen for community ‘involvement and engagement’.