‘Unrealistic’ planning application to build 151 new homes is approved

Upset residents after the planning meeting today (August 9)
Upset residents after the planning meeting today (August 9)

A controversial planning application for 151 new homes in Haywards Heath has been approved, despite months of vigorous campaigning from residents.

Full planning was granted to remove a listed building to make way for the 151 new homes in Gamblemead, Fox Hill.

Residents protesting against the development. Picture: Derek Martin

Residents protesting against the development. Picture: Derek Martin

The application was approved – seven votes to two – at a Mid Sussex Planning Committee meeting today (August 9).

The full application followed outline approval for 99 homes, which was granted in July last year, despite concerns over flooding, traffic, and the effect on the countryside.

The application, which was recommended for approval, includes 30 per cent affordable homes, landscaping, open space and car and cycle parking.

Resident Frances Wallace, speaking against the application, said the plan was ‘unrealistic’ and there was ‘no way the area could cope’.

Highways will have blood on their hands when a child is killed on that road.

Margaret Robinson

She said: “There has been no thought or feeling to existing residents in the area. Like our ward councillor Garry Wall has said, ‘enough is enough’.

After the meeting, Frances, 56, of Fox Hill Village, said she was ‘really sad and disappointed’ about the decision.

Resident David Went, speaking against the application, said his main concern was loss of amenity, and urged the council to revert to the 99-home plan.

He said: “It is a greenfield site, with recreational use. The bridleways and footpaths will become unuseable, and we should preserve the wonderful amenity environment as much as possible.”

Residents on a protest walk in February. Picture: Derek Martin

Residents on a protest walk in February. Picture: Derek Martin

Resident Stephanie Went, speaking against the application, said the development would only ‘compound issues’.

She added: “I have knocked on every door in Fox Hill and every house has expressed their concern about this development.

“Our MP agrees with all of our objections, this is too much to sustain and we cannot tolerate it.”

After the meeting, Stephanie, 54, chairman of Foxhill Residents’ Association, said she was ‘absolutely disgusted’ by the decision.

Residents against the plans for 99 homes outside the council offices

Residents against the plans for 99 homes outside the council offices

“You feel like you go in these meetings like a decision has already been made,” she said.

“You get a couple of supportive comments and you get some hope. The application wasn’t looked through robustly, they have not taken any of our objections on board, nothing about safety was objected, we know how many use the road as we live there.”

Franklands ward councillor Garry Wall spoke on behalf of his residents and asked the committee to give the application a ‘robust examination’.

He said: “No one understands more than I do the challenges we face, and demands with increased housing and the increased amount of applications.

“We must relate to the concerns of the residents that we represent. Three residents have spoken with great clarity and purpose.

“This has been a very robust process and there has been a lot of issues raised by residents over time. These views are reflected by an awful amount of residents, not just these three in the room.”

Residents protesting. Picture: by Derek Martin

Residents protesting. Picture: by Derek Martin

Despite councillor Walls’ plea, the application went on to be approved.

At the end of the meeting he said he was happy his colleagues had ‘thoroughly examined’ the plan.

After the meeting Margaret Robinson, 49, a supply teacher of Oathall Road, in Haywards Heath, who regularly walks her dog in Fox Hill, said she was ‘shaking’.

“I can’t believe what I have just seen and the way this town is going. It is totally unbelievable – I am shaking,” she said.

“Highways will have blood on their hands when a child is killed on that road.”

Hillier Simmons, 69, of Hurstwood Lane, raised concerns over traffic and the danger of the road after the meeting.

“You are risking your life walking on that road – it is so narrow,” he said.

“It is meant to be a 30 speed limit, but drivers do not perceive it as a 30, but there is no enforcement.

“Now this application has been accepted, it is just going to get worse.”

Andra Houche, 65, also of Hurstwood Lane, said traffic would be a ‘major problem’.

“You get so many big lorries and how they are going to turn to this new development, I don’t know,” she said.

The planning officer insisted the positive impacts ‘outweighed concerns’ and the design of the homes would ‘fit in with the character’.

Although existing residents would have a change of view, there would be ‘acceptable views’ and there would be ‘proper screening’ in place to protect residents, he said.

He also argued that the council’s five-year housing plan was ‘not up to date’ and 45 homes being affordable in the development is ‘positive and attractive’.

Councillor Edward Matthews was the first to approve the plan and said he had ‘no ojections’.

Councillor Christopher Hersey raised concerns over highways and the design of the homes and councillor Margaret Hersey raised concerns over residents ‘losing their view’.

Councillor Ginny Heard, speaking against the plan, said it was a ‘step too far’ for residents.

She said: “I did not like the 99 homes nevermind the 151, therefore because of the residents, I think it would be much more kinder to say no to the 151 homes.”

Highways England attended the meeting and spokesman Ian Gledhill confirmed there were ‘no concerns’.

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