Hassocks homes plan is “not wanted or needed” says campaigner

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Opposition is growing to controversial plans for 97 homes on greenfield land near one of the most polluted crossroads in Mid Sussex.

Developer Gleeson has just submitted a landscape and visual impact appraisal for its proposed development on land at Ham Fields behind London Road, Hassocks.

The appraisal claims the houses “will have limited landscape and visual effects” but the South Downs National Park Authority says the scheme would be seen from Wolstonbury Hill and “have the potential for significant adverse impact on the national park”.

Hassocks Parish Council says the outline scheme would make “air quality and traffic congestion” worse, place more burdens on a creaking infrastructure and damage the environment.

Access to the site would be off London Road, which has an average daily weekday traffic flow of 14,000 vehicles. West Sussex Highways officers have expressed concern about road safety and the impact on Stonepound Crossroads, which, in their words is “subject to severe congestion” and is also an Air Quality Management Area because of higher than average levels of nitrogen dioxide.

Gleeson in its design and access statement says “The mix of affordable housing has been developed in specific response to local housing need” with 29 out of the 97 homes in the scheme classed as much needed “affordable” homes. The developer has also stressed that the scheme would be landscaped with the retention of hedgerows, large trees and an existing public right of way.

But villagers are incensed by the potential loss of greenfield land, which is a favourite spot for walkers in part of what is left of the strategic gap between Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint. Both parish councils, in opposing the scheme, have warned of coalescence.

London Road resident Ian Tovey says the true beauty of the site is not reflected in photographs in the ‘Visual Impact Appraisal’ and has sent the district council a view to the west, lit by the setting sun (pictured).

He said: “Their photos show views facing east towards the houses and none facing west, which shows the real beauty of the amazing views.”

Ian Credland, who speaks for residents in London Road who have formed an action group against the proposal said: “Our only hope is that our elected representatives are hearing what the electorate are saying. This development is not wanted or needed. Localism is supposed to mean that we have a real say, I hope the politicians are listening.”

Gleeson has pointed out, like other developers putting in speculative applications, that the district council cannot demonstrate a five year land supply but the action group has vowed to fight on in its stand for democracy and Localism.