Allocating Haywards Heath Golf Club for housing development was considered

Residents campaign against development at Haywards Heath Golf Club. . Pic Steve Robards SR1823893 SUS-181009-221311001
Residents campaign against development at Haywards Heath Golf Club. . Pic Steve Robards SR1823893 SUS-181009-221311001

Haywards Heath Golf Club was considered as a new housing allocation but is not being taken forward by the district council.

Mid Sussex District Council’s local plan for 2014-2031, which was adopted last year, accepted a target of 16,390 homes.

Although the plan allocates a number of strategic sites across the district there remained a residual figure of 2,439 homes to find up to 2031.

However as recent housing delivery has been higher than expected the residual figure to meet the district’s housing requirement is now down to 1,507 dwellings.

The council has produced a site allocations development plan document (DPD), which identifies 22 sites where a combined total of 1,962 homes could be built.

A six-week public consultation on the DPD is due to start in October.

At the start of the process 233 sites were listed but this has been whittled down to 22. The work has been overseen by a working group, which met 16 times.

The DPD was discussed by the scrutiny committee for housing, planning and economic growth last Wednesday (September 11).

A higher figure of 1,962 has been chosen to give the council a buffer as not all sites will come forward as anticipated.

Officers explained that the council’s spatial strategy is to allocate growth in the top tier settlement towns. This is considered the ‘most sustainable approach’.

One of the options considered would have seen Haywards Heath Golf Club allocated for housing development.

But officers said: “We think that’s not appropriate at this stage in terms of scale of growth.”

Instead the option being taken forward is one which allocates two extra sites in Burgess Hill instead.

Campaigners were recently successful in their bid to have the golf course listed as an asset of community value.

The DPD would increase the council’s five-year housing land supply, reducing the risk of speculative development or the council losing housing appeals.

Neville Walker (Con, East Grinstead Town), the committee’s chairman said: “This means development where we want it and not unwanted development that has happened in the past.”

Meanwhile Rex Whittaker (Con, East Grinstead Imberhorne) said they had a legal responsibility to deliver a set number of homes, adding: “We have to be brave and we have to show leadership.”

However several members of the committee did raise a number of concerns.

Robert Eggleston (LDem, Burgess Hill - Meeds) raised the allocations south of Folders Lane and highlighted how the area had already taken significant development already.

He said: “It has had no road infrastructure improvements at all during that time period.”

Meanwhile Sue Hatton (LDem, Hassocks) said they had yet to hear the outcome of a planning appeal into the Friars Oak Field site, where 130 homes are proposed, which is allocated in the SPD.

Richard Bates (LDem, Haywards Heath - Ashenground) questioned the wisdom of continuing to build on the edge of towns.

Referencing Haywards Heath he said: “I do not think the solutions are adequate in what we are hearing.”

The document also allocates a number of new employment sites, sets out the location of a new science and technology park west of Burgess Hill and sets out policies for safeguarding land for future highways schemes, a cycle link between Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath, improvements to Wivelsfield Railway Station and new guidance on air quality.

The DPD is due to be discussed at a full council meeting later this month before going out to consultation.