Reluctant welcome for newly adopted District Plan

Roger Cartwright, chairman of Mid Sussex Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Lord, county councillor, 'Benedict Dempsey' of Hassocks and Burgess Hill South, Colin Wilsdon, chairman of Hassocks & Hurstpierpoint Liberal Democrats
Roger Cartwright, chairman of Mid Sussex Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Lord, county councillor, 'Benedict Dempsey' of Hassocks and Burgess Hill South, Colin Wilsdon, chairman of Hassocks & Hurstpierpoint Liberal Democrats

Mid Sussex Lib Dems has reluctantly welcomed the newly adopted District Plan.

The political party says the plan will offer ‘more protection to the unfettered planning applications from developers who have been allowed to pocket our community money for over six years, by avoiding paying a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)’.

Chairman Roger Cartwright said: “The Tories started the District Plan process in 2004 – 14 years ago – but previous plans were rejected time and time again as inadequate by the planning inspector.

“The delay in the adoption has been solely down to the incompetence of the Conservative-run district council and their past attempts to water down their planning responsibilities.

“The planning inspector, who gave the final go-ahead in the end, had insisted that the Conservative-led district council met its responsibilities, otherwise he would have imposed a plan that would have failed the Mid Sussex communities more badly than the one we now have.

“The delay has cost our Mid Sussex community a minimum estimate of £153 million in lost CIL money. You cannot impose CIL retrospectively.

“Four thousand homes have already been built or permissions granted which fail to raise a penny to support Mid Sussex residents’ lives. Very few of these will be part of the 16,000 plus identified in the plan.

“The final figure of housing to be built to 2031 (16,390) is slightly higher than the predicted figure Lib Dems estimated back in 2006, when the process started, and takes little account of the planning applications already given.

“However, the planning inspector has pointed out in his report that this is a minimum figure and there is a high likelihood of the final total being much higher due to an increasing unmet need that has been identified in the area. Again, these are the result of successive avoidance of meeting the obligations from previous plans.

“He has highlighted the high cost of owning your own home in Mid Sussex. The average mortgage has escalated from four times the average income under a Lib Dem administration, to over 12.5 times the average income under the Tories.

“This prices many of our younger residents out of the running to own their homes; and because of Mid Sussex Council’s failure to provide affordable rented accommodation, they are at the mercy of ‘high-rent’ private landlords.

“However the now adopted plan does little to relieve the situation, with a target of 30 per cent affordable homes.”

Mr Cartwright said the party cited communities like Hassocks, who have been ‘forced’ to take an additional 500 houses ‘over and above’ their Neighbourhood Plan, despite local opposition.

He also said doctors’ facilities and school places were in short supply due to ‘town centre cramming’.

“The over-development is rife in Haywards Heath,” he said.

“Across Mid Sussex we will have to face shortages in the things we need to live for generations to come. And all this is due to the Conservative administration’s failure to have a sustainable District Plan for years.”