Borde Hill accused of being “opportunistic”

Land off Penland Road, Hayward s Heathhas been proposed for housing
Land off Penland Road, Hayward s Heathhas been proposed for housing

A leading councillor has condemned Borde Hill Estate’s plan to build 306 homes in the gap between Haywards Heath and Cuckfield as “opportunistic and cynical” and an attempt to undermine local plans.

Jonathan Ash-Edwards also accused the estate of failing to mention that it is promoting another site - Sugworth Farm - opposite Penland Farm, as well.

Jonathan Ash-Edwards

Jonathan Ash-Edwards

Cllr Ash-Edwards is a senior Cabinet member of MSDC and councillor for Heath Ward. He is also a Haywards Heath Town councillor for the ward.

He said: “This is an opportunistic and cynical attempt by Borde Hill to undermine the Mid Sussex District Plan and Haywards Heath Neighbourhood Plan, neither of which propose development on this site.

“Residents are right to be concerned about this latest attempt to secure permission, given the substantial environmental and infrastructure concerns and the negative impact on the Haywards Heath-Cuckfield strategic gap. Several planning inspectors have rejected development on this site in the past for these reasons.

“For all the marketing spin, nothing can disguise the fact that this is a high density development on the rural edge of Haywards Heath that, if approved, is likely to lead to substantial, unplanned urban sprawl in the north of Haywards Heath with no consideration of the cumulative impact. In their presentation to the public last week, Borde Hill neglected to mention that they are also promoting development at Sugworth Farm on the opposite side of the Balcombe Road.”

Mr Ash-Edwards said MSDC put a tree preservation order on the tree belt along Hanlye Lane and Balcombe Road to protect the important contribution they made to the area and entrance to the town. Haywards Heath had taken more than its fair share of development, with Bolnore village and other etates while the town council wanted development on brownfield sites. He added: “It’s wrong for landowners to be undermining that for their own ends.”

He stressed: “The key question now is whether the Borde Hill Estate will listen to public views and drop or substantially amend their plans, or hold their neighbours in contempt and press on regardless.”

A statement to the Middy said the trustees of Borde Hill Estate and Catesby Estates Ltd were delighted with attendance at the two public consultation sessions about Penland Farm last week. Around 3,000 households were invited and just over 300 people attended across the two days. It said around 58 per cent of respondents agreed there was a need for more homes in the area.

The trustees were responding to this identified housing need and were committed to planning a “sustainable development” on the Penland Farm site including preserving and enhancing the ancient woodland.

The statement said: “The objective of the pre-application consultation was to enable local people to feed in their thoughts and comments prior to the outline application being finalised for submission. The responses from the exhibition are currently being analysed and will then form the basis of a review of the proposals, prior to an outline planning application being submitted.”

See residents’ views on p10