Letter: We must unite to protect Haywards Heath

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As a resident of Haywards Heath for over 40 years, I am writing with my serious concerns over the recent huge increase in the population of the Haywards Heath area due to the recent new housing developments already built and further proposals.

We all really need to group together to make sure the town we most value is not destroyed forever!

In 2001 the parish of Haywards Heath had a population of 22,800 living in 9,782 households. The Haywards Heath facts and figures published in 2005 predicted the population should increase to 25,900 by 2016. The 2011 census shows that Haywards Heath has far exceeded this figure and had a population of 27,057 with a total number 11,587 of households. This is an increase in population of 18%. This does not include any housing developments since 2011 so currently

underestimates as building of Bolnore village and other housing developments still continues. With still more new homes already planned and further planning applications proposed this greatly exceeds the anticipated growth and is not

sustainable with the current infrastructure.

I am unable to find evidence of any significant money being spent on new infrastructure. This has led to an effective decrease in standards of living for the existing residents particularly affecting;

• Schools. They cannot cope with the number of children in their catchment area and to simply dismiss this as something not directly considered by the planners is a disgrace.

• Doctors. Instead of same or next day appointments or the luxury of home visits we have to wait for non-emergency appointments for over a week.

• Hospital. Princess Royal has been downgraded in several departments and no longer offers a full A&E service. How can anyone justify reducing hospital

services whilst increasing the local population by 25%?

• Trains. Hayward’s Heath railway station cannot cope with any more cars or commuters during peak periods. It is now fairly normal not to expect a seat when travelling to London during peak times.

• Fire Service. The service has been reduced so much over the years. We need to think very carefully about how much we value this service.

• Parking. There is no extra parking in the town centre and streets within a 15 minute walk to the station are being used for commuter parking! There is no

alternative to driving as public transport is very poor and country roads are dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

• Leisure Centre. This is now so busy and far more expensive than it ever used to be. It is difficult to book activities due to demand and swimming is limited due to the number of children’s lessons through the increased population.

• Roads. The village and small town road surfaces are breaking up with the increased heavy traffic due to building work and the increased amount of general traffic. They were never designed to be saturated to the extent they are.

• Wildlife. Haywards heath was once very fortunate to enjoy a wide variety of wildlife and insects in the majority of gardens, open spaces and in the town. This offering is reducing, spaces are now limited and people actually have to drive to green spaces to walk their dogs now! I note that Borde Hill are even trying to build on their land that will have a significant detrimental effect on that side of

town with long established trees already being removed effecting the character and appearance of the area as you enter the town.

• Water. The infrastructure is already overstretched given the hose pipe ban last year and reservoir storage finite and proven to be insufficient in recent years. A new reservoir would be required before further housing and the associated

population increase could even be considered in the area. The fracking at Balcombe and the vast quantities of valuable drinking water used really takes the biscuit! I am sure I am not the only one who feels let down by the local Council, Mid Sussex District Council and Government. David Cameron said that he would give residents a chance to shape their own towns – Conservative Party; this is your last chance - no more large developments please!

T LAWRENCE

Barnmead