New headquarters for business in Hurstpierpoint approved despite concerns at countryside location

Plans to build a research, development and office facility in the Hurstpierpoint countryside have been approved by Mid Sussex District Council.

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 3:01 pm

The application, from Cells4Life, to build a new HQ in Malthouse Lane, south of East Lodge Farm, attracted dozens of objections.

Alison Bennett (Lib Dem, Hurstpierpoint & Downs) said the decision to approve was ‘a great shame, both for those who live nearby, the environment and the protection of the countryside’.

The application was given the nod during a meeting of the planning committee, where members were reminded that Cells4Life already had planning consent – granted in 2019 – to build a commercial building on the site.

As such, chairman Dick Sweatman told the committee the company could ‘go ahead and start building it tomorrow’ if it so wished.

The agent acting for the company said the latest application had been submitted to allow for improvements to the design of the building, though its size would not change much – it will be one metre lower in height and two metres longer.

But Mrs Bennett said the two-storey, 66 metre long development was ‘unnecessary, unwanted, and damaging’.

She added: “Not only is there no need for this site to be developed, but I do believe this application will be used as a precedent to argue for further encroachment into the rural parts of Hurstpierpoint of developments surrounding Burgess Hill.”

Cells4Life would not be the only business on the site. Safety equipment company Contego already operates to the north and a battery storage facility is being built to the west.

While more than 100 objections were received from members of the public, Colin Trumble (Con, Hurstpierpoint & Downs) said the committee’s job was to assess applications based on planning policy, not emotion or local opinion.

Warning people about the financial consequences to the council if it lost a planning appeal, he added: “I agree there would be better sites for this development but we as a committee have to assess what’s in front of us.”

Mr Trumble pointed out that there had been no objections from the public about the 2019 application.

But, speaking after the meeting, Sally North, of Malthouse Lane, said that was because residents didn’t know anything had been planned.

She added that they only found out when some one ‘saw a construction worker over his fence and checked on the council website’.

The site will include parking for 83 cars.

The plans were approved by eight votes to three.

To view the application, log on to pa.midsussex.gov.uk and search for DM/21/1118.