Parking is biggest concern with masterplan for Haywards Heath

Proposals laid out in the Haywards Heath Town Centre Masterplan have received a general thumbs-up from the public – except when it comes to parking.

Monday, 25th January 2021, 5:04 pm
Car park behind the Orchards Shopping Centre (photo from Google Maps Street View)

The masterplan was put out to a six-week consultation throughout November and December, attracting 424 comments from 243 people. 

That may not seem like a lot from a town of more than 35,000 people but members of a Mid Sussex District Council scrutiny committee were told this was actually quite a good response when compared to other consultations.

The masterplan lays out the bare bones of long and short-term projects up to 2031, which are aimed at breathing new life into the town centre and helping it to thrive.

Split into eight ‘objectives’, it covers: encouraging economic recovery and growth by attracting people to the town centre; strengthening the character of the area; discouraging unnecessary traffic from using key routes such as South Road and The Broadway; protecting and enhancing green spaces; using public art to welcome visitors to the area; enhancing the opportunity to live in the town centre; exploring the viability of alternative uses; and consolidating and improving town centre parking.

It was this final objective which caused problems with many people who took part in the consultation.

Fewer than one-third agreed with the idea of consolidating the existing car parks – Haywards West, Haywards East and Franklynn Road – into a multi-storey at The Orchards with the aim of improving capacity overall.

Another sticking point was the Clair Hall, with almost two-thirds (62%) disagreeing with the plans to redevelop the site.

Some 81 per cent agreed there should be a community facility in the town and 94 per cent said they would support the idea of it being fully or partially subsidised using public money.

Almost three-quarters (72%) felt it should be included in the Clair Hall site.

On the positive side, the idea of introducing a 20mph speed limit in the town centre and adjoining residential streets was welcomed by 62 per cent of respondents, with some suggesting it could be extended to surrounding roads and villages.

There was plenty of support for improvement plans around Commercial Square and the railway station.

With signage around the station described as ‘poor’, the idea of bringing it up to scratch and directing visitors to key areas such The Orchards Shopping Centre, South Road and the Clair and Victoria parks was seen as a good one.

Others agreed that installing artwork and better lighting – especially around the railway bridge – would certainly brighten things up.

The masterplan does not cover any specific detail such as project designs. This would come later when each individual scheme went through the planning process.

It will now be discussed by the full council in March before being adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document – essentially giving guidance on how future plans should be put in place.