On 27th September Mid Sussex District Council voted to include a new scheme for 500 houses on the edge of Hassocks, off Ockley Lane, to the District Plan. By adding them to the District Plan, that means a developer is able to build there, as long as they meet simple guidelines.
Mid Sussex DC are required by law to produce a District Plan to cover each 5-year period, and in this case, they were required to produce a plan - from 2014 until 2031 - to provide an extra 17,500 houses.
For a number of reasons they have failed consistently to be able to form a quality plan, even though one of the most fundamental reasons we vote the council in is to produce correct and well thought- through housing / commercial / open space zoning for the area in which we live.
The council has made a number of attempts to submit a District Plan, but at each stage the Inspector overseeing the process has found their attempts un-satisfactory.
At the last Examination at the end of July 2017, the Inspector told them they were close, but not close enough. He advised them to go away and consider increasing the number of houses on existing sites (greater density) or perhaps to consider allowing greater freedom for certain types of in-fill sites in towns and villages to come forward more easily.
Instantly Gleeson Homes, a promoter / developer came forward and said they had a potential site on the edge of Hassocks, that could deliver houses quickly. FIVE HUNDRED of them. That was only in July (yes, 2017) !
The council didn’t consider the matter for long, nor did they consider or consult the community. By September, just 2 months later, they had whipped it in to their District Plan, as their problem solved.
The residents of Hassocks object very strongly at being used by the Council as their 'Get out of Jail free card', following the own failings over many years. It is our intention to show that the decisions reached by MSDC were not 'sound' or legally / procedurally correctly arrived at.
We know the whole country needs more housing. A growing population, changing family relationships, leads to greater demand for housing. And with house prices going up and up, of course we need affordable housing in our local communities.
Like all communities, Hassocks needs to add more housing. Mid Sussex District Council has been told by the Planning Inspector it has to find 17,500 new houses by 2031. Hassocks Parish Council consulted on this for two years, we all had the chance to vote and choose our priorities for the sites suitable for development
Mid Sussex District Council has failed in its legal duty to produce a District Plan for housing for the period from 2014. It has reached a point where a Planning Inspector has been appointed to oversee their progress and to whip a plan in to shape. At the latest plan submission the Planning Inspector felt MSDC was too close to call on the houses it could build by 2019, within its 2014-2031 plan, so he asked MSDC to look at ways to find more housing that could be built immediately. The Council was approached in July of this year by a developer saying they were ready to build. The council saw this as an easy answer.
No thought was given to the future nature of the community or the shape of the village. Not for one moment did they consider the value of the countryside or the near joining of Hassocks to Burgess Hill.
Their sole thoughts were: How quickly can we get houses out of the ground.
MSDC's processing of this plan has progressed at such speed that the Council has reached a decision that is wholly untenable. They were asked to deliver a 'sound' District Plan. By rushing it through this fast, they may feel they've found opportunity to build enough houses, but the decision on the location is in no way sound!