Haywards Heath masterplan a ‘clear signal to investors that town has a vision’

A new masterplan for Haywards Heath town centre has been adopted by Mid Sussex District Council.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 9:58 am

The supplementary planning document (SPD) provides a framework for planning and investment decisions, with the aim of supporting economic recovery and growth.

The plan includes a number of objectives such as attracting people to visit, work and live in the town centre, providing opportunities for sustainable travel, improving the public realm, improving parking provision, protecting green spaces and creating positive ‘gateway moments’ to define arrival into the town centre.

It also identifies several opportunity sites within the town centre boundary that have the potential for either regeneration or renewal.

Haywards Heath's South Street

District councillors voted to adopt the SPD at a full council meeting on Wednesday March 31.

But some wanted more focus on improving cycling links into the town centre, there were criticisms of proposals to narrow South Road to discourage through traffic and concern about not enough mention of transport decarbonisation.

Richard Bates (LDem, Haywards Heath – Ashenground) felt the plan did not address the future of the high street, which could see fewer shopping trips and also thought there was not enough on the issue of traffic which should be using the relief road cutting through the town centre.

Meanwhile Paul Brown (Green, High Weald) disagreed with plans to narrow South Road and increasing the width of the pavements, citing concerns from Metrobus that two buses might not be able to pass one another.

He also pointed to the representation from the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s Sussex branch about low traffic neighbourhoods.

After the meeting, Mr Brown said: “What we need are wide streets (which Haywards Heath already has), quick and efficient bus services, and measures to encourage cycling and walking according to best-practice norms.”

Matthew Cornish (Green, Burgess Hill – St Andrews) raised the shortcomings of the cycle network in Haywards Heath.

Andrew MacNaughton, cabinet member for housing and planning, explained that the masterplan did not look to duplicate work done elsewhere with topics such as climate change dealt with through the planning process.

He said they would continue to look at connections between cycle routes which was an ‘ongoing issue for the whole of the district’.

Ruth de Mierre, cabinet member for customer services, felt Mid Sussex’s towns and villages could benefit from a change in habits post-Covid, with fewer people wanting to commute up to central London.

She said: “I hope this will bring investment into all our towns in the district because they are going to see we are open for them. A lot of firms might want to relocate here.”

On the masterplan itself, Stephen Hillier, cabinet member for economic growth, added: “It’s a starting point and a clear signal to developers and inward investors that Haywards Heath has a vision, is open minded and that this council will support those who are wanting to come and invest in the town and bring jobs.”