This picture shows the strength of feeling among many local people opposed to 306 homes being built on more than 52 acres of farmland and woods on the edge of Haywards Heath and Cuckfield.
They gathered to protest about a bid by the trustees of Borde Hill Estate and Catesby Estate to build at Penland Farm with access on to Balcombe Road and Borde Hill Lane via a new roundabout.
Penland Farm Action Group said a land survey concluded against housing development because of infrastructure capacity as well as strategic gap erosion and narrow roads already over capacity.
The group says: “With all the MSDC strategic plans and recent housing approvals, MSDC has already committed to 8,600 homes over the 2011-2031 planning period. Figures are shown in the now submitted district plan. The 19 neighbourhood plans, that are well advanced but not yet complete, will identify land for the remaining, locally assessed housing demand. Brownfield sites across the whole of the Mid Sussex district will accommodate these additionally required homes over the remaining 18+ years of the plan period.
“Borde Hill and Catesby state that there is an “urgent” need for the additional housing they propose on our greenfield site – there is not. There is no need to build on yet more greenfield sites.”
The group says the estates were submitting plans now because of the void when local plans were awaiting approval, which was gifting planning control to land owners and developers.
“The group says: “Our voices are simply ignored; Our democratic rights are bulldozed aside; Our greenfield land is seen by developers as an easy target; brownfield sites, more expensive to develop, are ignored.
“Here, we are focused on Penland Farm but all greenfield sites across Mid Sussex and many around the country are vulnerable to the same, aggressive and tactical actions of developers.”
The group called on Borde Hill and Catesby to show respect for local people and their rights under the Localism Bill and submit applications after local plans were approved. It urged town and parish councils to complete Neighbourhood Plans as soon as possible.
“To central government we say:– you’ve got us into this mess, please dig us out of it now – before the Summer Recess!” and urged people to write to Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames.”
A statement from the developers said approximately 58 per cent of respondents to a questionaire at their public meeting agreed there was a need for more homes in the area.
“The Trustees of Borde Hill Estate and Catesby Estates Limited are responding to this identified housing need and are committed to bringing forward a sustainable development on the Penland Farm site including preserving and enhancing the ancient woodland.
“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.”