“Hell will freeze over before they build on those fields” - a defiant message from Hassocks District Councillor Peter Martin who shares residents’ outrage over an opportunistic scheme to build 97 homes on Ham Meadows.
Developer Gleeson has submitted an outline application to build the homes on open countryside on the west side of London Road, with a site entrance close to Stonepound Crossroads - officially designated as the district’s only area of high air pollution, by Mid Sussex District Council.
Although the scheme includes 29 much needed affordable homes, with 75 per cent rented and 25 per cent shared ownership, it would erode the small strategic gap between Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint.
London Road resident Ian Credland, who chairs the Hassocks campaign group ‘Protect Ham Fields’ said: “The proposal underlines the outrageous greed of land owners and developers who contrive together to desecrate virgin green fields in order to make a quick buck, with total disregard for the wishes of the population or the ability of the community to accommodate further residents.
“The village infrastructure is at bursting point. Building more dwellings will lead to more cars, more congestion and more pollution.
“The site is close to the Air Quality Management Area of Stonepound Crossroads, which has Nitrogen Dioxide levels in excess of World Health Organisation permitted levels.”
Gleeson, in its design brief, does not address the pollution problems at Stonepound but justifies the application by pointing out that the district council is “unable to demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing sites” until an inspector approves its latest district plan.
Mid Sussex District Councillor for Hassocks, Peter Martin, said: “This is a blatantly opportunistic application because they know the district plan is galloping behind them.
“Once it is approved by the inspector all this nonsense about a five year land supply will cease.”
He added: “Gleeson have chosen to ignore the pollution at Stonepound and this is one of those occasions when I have got to stick my neck out and robustly oppose any opportunist plans to desecrate Ham Meadows.”
The public has until December 13 to make online comments about the application that can be viewed on Mid Sussex District Council’s planning register.
The application reference number is 13/03818/OUT. There is a link on the application page to make comments.
Alternatively, comments can be emailed to:midsussex
Hassocks Parish Council is due to discuss the application at its planning meeting on December 2.
Mr Credland and other London Road residents, who have held demonstrations in Ham Fields and at nearby Stonepound to oppose further development, are hoping to meet South Downs and Arundel MP Nick Herbert when he holds his next surgery at the Pauline Thaw Centre off Dale Avenue, Hassocks on December 6.
The district planning committee is expected to discuss the application early in the New Year.