Relief for Haywards Heath businesses but planned road closure ‘threat’ remains

A decision to postpone a major Haywards Heath route closure has been met with ‘relief’.

However, small businesses at Borde Hill Garden are still ‘seriously threatened’ by the planned three-month road closure proposed by developer Redrow.

Concerned business owners at Borde Hill Garden. Photo by Steve Robards

Concerned business owners at Borde Hill Garden. Photo by Steve Robards

In November last year, we reported that Redrow wanted to close Balcombe Road, Borde Hill Lane and Hanlye Lane for three months for road improvements as part of the Penlands Green development.

The news came as a huge blow to the businesses, which said it would have a ‘devastating’ effect.

However Redrow has now confirmed it will be withdrawing its road closure application and will instead pursue the closure for the summer of 2020, following concerns raised.

Jill Housby and Sam Phillips, of The Green Tree Gallery, said: “We are relieved at the recent news that Balcombe Road will not be closed off from next month, but this is only a postponement of the potential and likely chaos which will now unfold next year.

The businesses based in and around Borde Hill employ upwards of 130 people, whose livelihoods would be seriously threatened by the three-month road closure.

Jill Housby and Sam Phillips, of The Green Tree Gallery, Borde Hill Garden

“Redrow’s letter of notification stresses their intention ‘to find a way to reduce disruption to residents and businesses as much as possible’.

“The 14 Borde Hill businesses have yet to meet any representative of Redrow and we therefore urge Redrow to use the intervening time to engage with us in order to deliver on both this promise, and on its website mission statement that it ‘works closely with communities’, takes account of ‘what is important locally’, and aims to ‘instil a strong sense of community spirit’.

“The businesses based in and around Borde Hill employ upwards of 130 people, whose livelihoods would be seriously threatened by the three-month road closure.”

Jeremy Ashpool, of Jeremy’s Restaurant, said: “It feels like a stay of execution rather than reassuring the community that there will not be full closure for three months.”

Outline permission for 210 homes at Penland Farm was granted on appeal by a planning inspector in 2015.

Final details of the housing scheme were then approved by the district council in 2016.

Plans included a new roundabout at the junction of Balcombe Road, Borde Hill Lane and Hanlye Lane.

Philip Todd, managing director of BSE3d Engineering Ltd, said: “The entrance to the town has been dramatically changed over the last two years.

“Over 100-year-old oak trees were culled to make way for a large roundabout that would-be built in phases to help ensure traffic continues to flow to our businesses.

“Redrow didn’t want to build a large roundabout due to costs and there was resistance from the public that the roundabout would also be unsightly.

“Redrow saw the opportunity to adopt a different strategy with a smaller roundabout that was previously unacceptable at planning stage but has now been accepted by the authorities with alteration.

“The trouble is the smaller roundabout doesn’t allow phased building resulting in the need to close the road and the damage to the entrance to the town has already been done.

“The businesses hope that Redrow will be diverting the money they have saved to the provision of a footpath/cycle path between the new Hanlye Lane junction and the Borde Hill entrance, that would be a welcome benefit to the local community, particularly staff at the Borde Hill located businesses.”