Mid Sussex District Council to vote on Birchen Fields homes plan

Land off Birchen Way, Haywards Heath. Proposed site for housing. Pic Steve Robards ENGSUS00120140502105005
Land off Birchen Way, Haywards Heath. Proposed site for housing. Pic Steve Robards ENGSUS00120140502105005
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Officers are recommending councillors refuse permission for a controversial development on medieval

A planning application to build 48 homes on land north of Birchen Fields in Haywards Heath has been submitted to Mid Sussex District Council, with councillors set to vote on it today (Thursday 19).

The development, whilst being identified as having less than substantial harm would result in the loss of an area of countryside...

Kirsten King, Mid Sussex District Council

Case officer Kirsten King said the proposals for 48 homes would represent a ‘significant benefit’ to the area.

However, Mrs King said the development would have an impact on the designated heritage asset of Sunte House which is Grade II listed.

“The development, whilst being identified as having less than substantial harm would result in the loss of an area of countryside adjacent to the building which contributed to its significance as a principal house to a large country estate and is in itself identified as a non-heritage asset.”

The council received objections to the scheme from Blackthorns Community Association, Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Haywards Heath Society.

More than 350 letters of objection have been written to the council by residents concerned about the impact on listed buildings, the loss of valuable recreational space, increased traffic in the area and the increase in flood risk. Others have argued the area does not need more housing for commuters.

An independent consultant’s report has been submitted on behalf of Save Birchen Fields Action Group – which argues the proposal is ‘unsatisfactory’ and will impact Medieval assart fields, a historical sunken lane and an important hedgerow.

Developers Crest Nicholson submitted the plans in December 2014 – 11 months after the developers’ first bid for new homes on the land. If it goes ahead, there will be 14 affordable homes – which will not be ‘distinguished’ from the other houses.

The planning statement describes the site which ‘comprises countryside land’ as a ‘sensible, logical and sustainable’ location for the extension of a town. Developers say they have considered the ‘impact of additional traffic movements’ into and out of the site.