‘Bitter disappointment’ at 500-homes plan

Sue Hatton, Lib Dem district councillor for Hassocks
Sue Hatton, Lib Dem district councillor for Hassocks

A Hassocks councillor has described being ‘bitterly disappointed’ at the ‘imposition’ of 500 extra new homes for the village.

The Tory-controlled Mid Sussex District Council is putting together its planning framework, which allocates strategic housing and employment sites up to 2031.

Developers looking to build 500 homes off Ockley Lane north of Clayton Mills development in Hassocks. Pic Steve Robards SR1723505 SUS-170920-085647001

Developers looking to build 500 homes off Ockley Lane north of Clayton Mills development in Hassocks. Pic Steve Robards SR1723505 SUS-170920-085647001

A Government appointed planning inspector has increased the district’s housing target to 876 homes a year up to 2023/24, and then 1,090 dwellings per annum up to 2031 subject to environmental assessments.

In order to help meet a short-term housing shortfall land north of the Clayton Mills development, off Ockley Lane, Hassocks, has been allocated in the recent modifications to the plan.

District councillors agreed to a six-week public consultation on the changes last Wednesday (September 27).

Sue Hatton (LDem, Hassocks) was the only district councillor to vote against.

Afterwards she said: “I am bitterly disappointed that the people of Hassocks have been denied a neighbourhood plan that contained a sustainable future for the village.

“The imposition of this strategic site of 500 homes will change Hassocks forever.”

Fellow Lib Dem Kirsty Lord, county councillor for Hassocks and Burgess Hill South, added: “There is plenty of room to take 500 extra homes in Mid Sussex.

“Hassocks should be part of the solution but it should not suffer from a rushed decision that places the entire burden of the district’s housing shortfall on one village.”

During the meeting, Mrs Hatton raised concerns with traffic congestion and road safety, air quality, the dangerous rail crossing, and the suitability of the site for a primary school.

Gordon Marples (Con, Hassocks) raised concerns about the strategic site’s impact on the village’s ‘stretched infrastructure’, adding: “I do not welcome it, but we are where we are.”

Michelle Binks (Con, Hassocks) raised traffic concerns and the potential for an ‘East-West divide with the railway, especially without a safe crossing for the children’.

Andrew MacNaughton (Con, Ardingly and Balcombe), cabinet member for housing and planning, said the site had been chosen because developers approached the council and it was ‘deliverable and ready to go’.

He explained how a detailed planning application would have to demonstrate that it would not cause an unacceptable level of air pollution, given recent problems at the Stonepound Crossroads.

Pru Moore (Con, Burgess Hill - Leylands) added: “I do have sympathy with the Hassocks councillors and Hassocks councillors but we have no option. We must accept this because otherwise we are all going to be in trouble and there will be even more houses than are proposed here today.”

It was pointed out that part of the site had been allocated for 140 homes in the neighbourhood plan process.

Garry Wall (Con, Haywards Heath - Franklands), leader of the council, explained how they had been on a ‘difficult and arduous journey in putting a plan forward’.

He argued that an approved plan would allow them to ‘wrest back control’.

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