LETTER: Contentious planning application should be dismissed

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The current disastrous floods in the north of England have led to the Government’s decision to review the national strategy for dealing with flooding matters.

The Environment Agency says that current flooding defences need a complete rethink and is accordingly is questioning whether underlying assumptions about the criteria for assessing flooding risks are still valid in the light of climate change.

In connection with the current planning application DM/15/3448 for 99 housing units on the “Gamblemead” site, Fox Hill, Haywards Heath, I sent the following email to the MSDC’s Senior Drainage Engineer (part-time) on 23 December:

‘I cannot trace in the documentation for the above Planning Application a response from Paul Bond of Hilson Moran [‘Environments for Life’] to your enquiry of 15 December 2015 - when you said that you “would also appreciate confirmation that any potential excess water that may come from development at Hurst Farm plans has been allowed for in the calculation, should they go ahead.” This is a significant factor which I have already drawn to the attention of the MSDC in my letter of 10 October 2015 to Claire Tester (on the DM/15/3448 website which, surprisingly, is currently down).The District Council’s clear intentions for the Hurst Farm land are not only for housing but now include a primary school, the location of which has already been determined by West Sussex County Council. The ensuing water run-off from the planned low density housing on the western section of the Farm site east of Fox Hill through the existing culvert under the B2112 and under “Mermaid Cottage” is a critical element in assessing the flood risk and the capacity of the proposed drainage system for “Gamblemead”, particularly in the field and ditch immediately south of the eastern end of Fox Hill Village.

The re-calculations in your email correspondence with Paul Bond of likely discharge rates on the “Gamblemead” site itself, depending on assumptions such as whether they are based on the whole site or the planned developed area of the site, culminate in his indicative question “Would you like me to re-issue the FRA [Flood Risk Assessment] with the correct figure... .?”

You should ensure that the effects of the intended Hurst Farm development are factored into the FRA calculations for the “Gamblemead” site, and that the correct figures are published.unequivocally.

I - and other local residents in the Fox Hill area - look forward to having your and, indeed, the Economic Promotion and Planning Department’s reassurances on these important issues.’

I have as yet received no explanations of, or apologies for, these revelatory (is it coincidental that this word is an anagram of ‘reveal Tory’?) shortcomings in these interchanges with the District Council’s expert consultees.

Despite the acknowledged critical situation for the whole of the UK arising from the current widespread floods, Mid Sussex District Council is determined to press on locally, by hook or by crook, with its intention to approve the “Gamblemead” wetland site for housing development.

Clearly this contentious planning application should be dismissed until the projected national review of the assessment and minimalisation of flooding risks has been completed.

Brian High

Fox Hill Village, Haywards Heath

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