VIDEO: Residents campaign against 500 homes

A plan to build 500 new homes in Hassocks has sparked opposition from upset villagers.

Peter Rayner, 52, of Ockley Lane, has launched the campaign ‘Stop 500 houses’ on behalf of concerned residents.

Upset residents campaigning against the homes. Picture: Derek Martin

Upset residents campaigning against the homes. Picture: Derek Martin

Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) is consulting on the main modifications to its District Plan.

These are changes that the planning inspector considers are necessary to make the plan legally compliant.

People can submit their comments by November 13.

In order to help meet a short-term housing shortfall land north of the Clayton Mills development, off Ockley Lane, Hassocks has been allocated for the 500 homes in the recent modifications to the plan.

Five hundred houses is another village – attached onto an existing village – it is completley unsustainable.

Peter Rayner

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

Mr Rayner, who owns Ockley Manor – a collection of historic listed buildings, is urging residents to submit their views to MSDC by November 13.

He said: “As one of the residents affected by such a huge development, and such a huge decision, we’re astounded that the first we knew of any potential development that changes the whole area so significantly, for ever more, was as a result of MSDC agreeing to adopt the scheme in to their District Plan on September 27, just two months after the site was first introduced to them.

“They spent just one hour and 18 minutes discussing it along with 13 other items on the agenda.

“They gave it little time and effort on something that will have a dramatic impact on our community.

“A number of residents will be affected by this development and are very concerned because of infrastructure.

“Five hundred houses is another village – attached onto an existing village – it is completley unsustainable.

“Hassocks Parish Council produced their Neighbourhood Plan, and 150 homes was agreed for this piece of land, but Gleeson saw an opportunity to massively increase this.

“MSDC has failed in its legal duty to produce a District Plan for housing for the period from 2014.

“It has reached a point where a planning inspector has been appointed to oversee their progress and to whip a plan in to shape.

“No thought was given to the future nature of the community or the shape of the village.”

The controversial plan was discussed by district councillors at a meeting on September 27.

Some argued that the site was ‘ready’ for the new homes.

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’.

Pru Moore (Con, Burgess Hill – Leylands) sympathised with Hassocks councillors but said there was 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,” she added.

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’.

For more information on the campaign visit www.savehassocks.co.uk.