Derelict newsagents could be demolished to make way for new housing in Burgess Hill

Stubbings Newsagents, which may be demolished. Pic Steve Robards
Stubbings Newsagents, which may be demolished. Pic Steve Robards

An old newsagents would be demolished to provide access to proposed housing in Burgess Hill if permission is granted by Mid Sussex Planning Committee.

Developers GWP Architects has applied to knock down the derelict shop, H. Stubbings Newsagents and Tobacconist, to accommodate plans to build three 3 bedroom houses, two 5 bedroom houses and a one bedroom bungalow on the land behind 5 Valebridge Road.

Neighbours to the proposed scheme have submitted objections to the Planning Committee.

Elizabeth MacPhee, from Leylands Road, said: “We are upset as a neighbourhood.

“I would think that proposed development would cause a significant health and safety concern for road users and pedestrians, some of which are children on their way to the local school.”

Mrs MacPhee added: “The water table is very high indeed in this area and I fear that if the trees are removed then the flooding will get worse.”

GWP Architects supported its application with a description of the current state of the property.

It stated: “The adjoining site to the rear of the two properties has been significantly overwhelmed by Japanese Knotweed, which has taken a hold also at the rear north west corner of existing property and is causing significant damage to the existing structure and drains of number five.

“The property suffers from significant issues that potentially pose direct risks to health.

“Internally the ground floor to the front half of the property has collapsed, there is extensive rising damp and high level water ingress through large sections of the roof.

“Additionally the chimney appears to be leaning significantly away from vertical, and the mains services within the property are in a very poor state, and would appear to be unsafe.”

The proposed buildings are all two storey, some with a room in the roof, with the exception of a single storey bungalow at the eastern edge of the site.

There are also plans to provide 15 parking spaces, including one attached to a garage.

The planning application claimed: “It is in keeping with the wider character of the area.”

Flooding has been raised as a concern by some neighbours, including Brenda MacPhee, from Leylands Road, who said: “After heavy rainfall my garden floods and I fear the building of more houses and covering the soil will only make this worse.

“I believe that the noise pollution and the reduction of my privacy will have a detrimental effect on my happiness in my retirement and have an impact on the wildlife which I enjoy watching from my house.”

Mid Sussex District Council’s senior planing officer, Kirsten King, told the Mid Sussex Times: “The application is currently invalid awaiting a Flood Risk Assessment, Ecological Survey and Tree Survey.

“It is too early to say whether the LPA (Local Planing Authority) will be supporting the application.”

Other neighbours have raised environmental concerns such as threat to wildlife.

Christopher Rye, from Leylands Road, said: “The ever decreasing habitat of the wildlife, the deer, foxes and badgers on that land, where are they going to go?”

Bill Munro, from Valebridge Road, said: “I have lived at this address for 20 years looking out the back of my house at trees, bushes and birds flying everywhere.

“This will cease if the plans are given the green light.”

Residents also fear danger to pedestrians and traffic congestion.

Mr Munro added: “My family bring their children to the Manor Field School at morning and mid afternoon times and to increase the traffic build up would be a gross misplacement of the council’s planning department experience in situations like this.

“Previous lesser plans have been rejected so why is this one being considered?”

GWP Architects declined the opportunity to comment in response to the objections made by neighbours but said surveys results will be in the public domain.

Anyone wishing to make a comment on the application (ref. 14/00080/FUL) has until February 13.