There was standing room only as around 200 people filled Lindfield’s King Edward Hall to voice their opposition to proposals for a new 230-home estate.
One speaker after another opposed the proposals by Wates Developments for greenfield land off Gravelye Lane, abutting the borders of Scaynes Hill and Haywards Heath.
Barrister and village resident Bill Nicolle warned that developers had been trying to build more houses in Lindfield for in excess of 25 years, and only by fighting would people be able to achieve something manageable.
Mr Nicolle told the meeting: “You might as well know that you are in a fight from the word go and get together all your resources.”
He added: “This is a large local battle – let’s not pretend otherwise; the whole of Lindfield life as you have known it – as I have for over 40 years – is at risk.”
Representatives from Wates, including the site’s architect and its transport consultant, spoke about the needs, merit and attractiveness of what they were proposing including the design of the houses that fitted in with the “Haywards Heath vernacular”.
Stephen Mellor, for Wates, said that the company’s current planning application was for a “low density, high quality scheme” which would provide constuction and other jobs in an area where there was currently an “uncertainty” and “insuffient land supply” for housing.
He said: “There are a number of benefits and those benefits that will appeal to different sections of the community will include provision of 69 affordable units.”
Speakers argued for the need to challenge the argument that extra houses were needed in the area. Schools and health centres were already at capacity and they urged all local residents to write individually to Mid Sussex District Council to oppose the plan.
Gravelye Lane resident John Ely urged people to go home and look at a local bungalow on a hill and then imagine it surrounded by houses. He appealed to them to sign the petitions that he would be sending to Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames, calling on him to also oppose the Wates proposal.
Lindfield Preservation Society vice-chairman John Jessop said Wates’ own development document revealed that it believed the land on the edge of Lindfield could finally accommodate as many as 500 homes.
He said: “Rest assured, this is not the end of the development on that site and it is important that you see this application as the precursor to further developments there.”
Mr Jessop said this would be building on land previously deemed unsuitable by planning inspectors and which would create more rat-runs in the village streets.
Fellow society member Gil Kennedy added: “One thing is clear this evening: if we don’t help ourselves, no one else will.”
Members of the public warned of flooding in the village already from new developments that had been built, of waiting decades for infrastructure to catch up with exisiting homes, and they warned that the latest proposal would combine Lindfield, Haywards Heath and Scaynes Hill into a mass of housing with another 3,000 people and 400 cars.
Ken Walker of Lyoth Lane said the application was “premature” and driven by “opportunist developers” and commercial considerations while Stuart Burrell said there was so much traffic already that “we will need wings to get across the high street”.
A traffic consultant for Wates said the access road on to the proposed estate, which was already the access road to Kalaedoscope, another new estate currently being built, was “over designed”, being six-metres wide and capable of taking additional traffic.
“We really have not tried to duck the existing issues; what we have tried to come up with is something to help solve them,” he said.
To contact the campaign or sign the petitions, email email@example.com
More information about the proposal no 12/04316/FUL can be found on the MSDC website under the Planning Portal.