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Hurstpierpoint & Sayers Common
Parish Council

Consultation on Mid Sussex District Plan

January 25, 2024

The Mid Sussex District Plan proposes to more than double the number of existing dwellings in the immediate area through the addition of nearly 4000 new homes.

Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) is currently reviewing the Mid Sussex District Plan that was adopted in March 2018. In accordance with legislation and national policy the Plan must be reviewed every five years and updated as necessary.

In December 2022 the Parish Council commented on the first draft of the revised District Plan published by MSDC and those comments can be found on our website and in the Hurst Life magazine article from December 2022. 

This Plan if enacted will radically change the nature of our parish. We would urge all residents and interested local groups to take the time to respond before the deadline of 23 February 2024.

The MSDC website address is www.midsussex.inconsult.uk/districtplanreg19/ where there is an on-line questionnaire, but you can also email:  policyconsultation@midsussex.gov.uk or write to Planning Policy, Mid Sussex District Council, Oaklands, Oakland Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 1SS.  You can also contact the Planning Policy Team by telephone on 01444 477053.

Comments may carry more weight if any criticism of aspects of the plan is accompanied by suggestions of positive alternatives.

More information on the detail of the Plan and the likely response from the Parish Council:

The Plan proposes two significant sites to be built on land north of Hurstpierpoint/west of Burgess Hill (please see Plan 1) and to the west of Reeds Lane in Sayers Common and Albourne (please see Plan 2).  Combined, the new sites proposed contain 1350 and 2393 homes respectively. 

MSDC has now announced the publication of its “submission draft” District Plan 2021-2039, as part of its second consultation stage running from 12 January to midnight on 23 February 2024.  All relevant documents can be found on MSDC’s webpage: www.midsussex.inconsult.uk/districtplanreg19/

Although some amendments have been made to the Plan following the Parish Council’s previous comments, very little has changed in the approach to spatial distribution of new developments, the number of new homes, the geographic locations or the sites themselves.

The positive to take from the changes that have been made is the greater emphasis now placed on clustering together sites in the Sayers Common and Albourne area to ensure developments are subject to a more coordinated approach by developers.

The Parish Council is likely to make many of the very same comments it made in December 2022 although at this stage the comments on the Plan should only be made having regard to whether the Plan is legally compliant, sound, and complies with a duty to co-operate with other local councils.  Plan are considered sound if they are properly prepared, justified, effective and consistent with National Policy.

Although residents may have heard politicians talk of a new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) before Christmas, this is not set to come into effect until after the Mid Sussex District Plan Review is sent to the Planning Inspector for their judgement, so any relaxation of housing numbers will not apply to this Plan.

Draft Response from Parish Council

As this article goes to print, Parish Council is still considering its draft response which will cover key issues like transport, sustainability and biodiversity and more specifically the following points:

  • Local Housing Need – The overall level of local housing need that should seek to be provided for within the Local Plan should be reduced, given the changes in demographic projections published in 2018.
  • Spatial Distribution of Housing within the High Weald – The Plan should be modified to allocate additional development to settlements that fall within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), (beyond the number set out in the Plan) to deliver a more balanced distribution of housing across the district and enable growth in settlements in the AONB to help sustain and underpin their vitality and viability, without harm to landscape beauty.
  • Spatial Distribution and the Urban Focus of Development – The Plan should be amended to place greater emphasis on the potential for urban renewal and redevelopment to contribute to housing supply to alleviate the pressure on the requirement for building on greenfield sites.
  • Spatial Distribution with a Focus of Development on the Three Main Towns of the District – The Plan should be modified to distribute a larger proportion of required growth in and around the settlements of Haywards Heath and East Grinstead to deliver a more balanced level of growth to the district’s existing main settlements and help balance the pressure on infrastructure across the district.
  • Spatial Distribution and the Proposed Allocations of Extensions to Smaller Existing Settlements – The Plan envisages substantial housing development at Sayers Common on the basis that this would be accompanied by extensive infrastructure to improve the sustainability of the settlement. There is inadequate evidence that such infrastructure will be delivered in conjunction with the proposed level of housing growth. In the absence of this, the proposed development at Sayers Common would not be suitable for the scale of the proposed growth.
  • Coalescence – The Plan contains a policy to prevent coalescence. This is supported in principle. However, the policy should be amended to identify specific local gaps that are to be protected from development. These identified gaps should include land between Hurstpierpoint and the surrounding settlements of Hassocks, Burgess Hill and Albourne, and between Sayers Common and Albourne.
  • Land to the West of Burgess Hill/North of Hurstpierpoint – The proposed scale of development in this area should not be permitted without an accompanying Masterplan which details a satisfactory layout to include a significant landscape buffer along the southern and western edge of the development allocation and designation of land beyond this as part of a local gap allocation to protect the surrounding countryside.
  • Land at Sayers Common, particularly South of Reeds Lane – The proposed scale of development envisaged at Sayers Common should not be permitted without an accompanying Masterplan and Infrastructure Delivery Plan. These should detail how development would be delivered in conjunction with a significant landscape buffer, particularly along the southern edge of the development area to preserve the local gap between Sayers Common and Albourne, and how required infrastructure will be delivered in a timely manner and at a scale that will meet the needs of existing and future residents. The proposed policy wording is not sufficiently robust. Residents of Sayers Common have experienced extensive problems with surface water flooding and foul drainage, and recent further development in the area has failed to address this. Resolution of such drainage should be compellingly evidenced as a pre-requisite to any further development in and around the village.
  • Land to the West of Kemps, Hurstpierpoint – The proposed allocation of 90 dwellings on the site would be harmful to the character and the setting of the Langton Lane Conservation Area and the rural character and amenity of the site, including as experienced from local Public Rights of Way. The number of dwellings is excessive, and the allocation should either be substantially reduced or removed from the Plan.
  • Housing Mix – The Plan seeks for new housing development to provide a mix of type and size of properties to reflect current and future local housing need. It sets out a range of size of property (to be used as a starting point) which comprises between 25 – 35% of properties to be 1 or 2-bed; 42 – 45% of properties to be 3-bed; and 25 – 30% of properties to be 4+ bed. It is considered that this mix is an inappropriate balance towards larger properties and fails to meet the need for generally smaller dwellings, to reflect the demographic of an ageing population and smaller household size.
  • Transport  – There are numerous transport issues ranging from the lack of realism in the proposed active travel route from Sayers Common to Burgess Hill and the wider impact of additional vehicle movements an lack of capacity issues on the B2116 to Hassocks via the High Street and the Stonepound Crossroads, a route which is already under extreme pressure.
  • Biodiversity – The size and location of the proposed developments would cause significant harm to the coherence of the ecological network in an area where wildlife is already under considerable pressure. This includes negative effects on valuable habitats such as ancient woodlands, trees, hedgerow, scrub and grassland. The mitigation, protection and compensation measures proposed in the Plan are inadequate and there is no evidence that even these measures would be properly enforced.

Plan 1 – Land West of Burgess Hill / North of Hurstpierpoint (DPSC 1)

Plan 2 – Sayers Common Sites (Sites DPSC3-7)

Plan 3 – Land West of Kemps, Hurstpierpoint (DPA12)

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