Decision due on another major Hassocks development

Artist's impression of homes planned for Friars Oak Field north of Hassocks
Artist's impression of homes planned for Friars Oak Field north of Hassocks

A decision on plans for 130 homes north of Hassocks is set to be made by district councillors next week.

Developer Rydon Homes wants planning permission for land at Friars Oak Fields behind the pub north of Shepherds Walk, with access from London Road and a pedestrian tunnel under the railway line.

Artist's impression of homes planned for Friars Oak Field north of Hassocks

Artist's impression of homes planned for Friars Oak Field north of Hassocks

A total of 160 letters of objection have been received, with the application due to be discussed by Mid Sussex District Council’s district planning committee next Thursday (July 25).

The site has a complex planning history.

A previous application for 130 homes at the site was supported by the committee in 2016, but before the council could issue a decision notice it was called in by the Secretary of State.

A public inquiry was then held in June 2017 with a planning inspector recommending the scheme be refused due to the absence of any measures to improve safety at the unmanned pedestrian railway crossing.

The Secretary of State accepted this recommendation and refused the application in March 2018.

A second application was then submitted, also for 130 homes, with a new footbridge over the railway.

This time the plans were refused by the committee in November 2018 due to the site being in the countryside, with the council able to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply.

An appeal against this decision has been lodged by the developer and will heard at a public inquiry in September.

In their report on the latest application, officers point out that the site does sit in the countryside and is outside the built-up area of Hassocks and therefore would be contrary to policies in Mid Sussex’s local plan.

However they also highlight the fact that the Secretary of State only refused the first application due to a lack of plans to improve safety at the railway crossing, with no overriding objections on environmental grounds to development of the site.

Councillors are also being asked to consider the consented and allocated development around the application site.

Developers are already building homes on the other side of London Road at the Ham Fields site near the Stonepound crossroads, while development is also planned on the golf course land.

Officers are therefore recommending approval.

Residents objections raise the fact that Hassocks has already had to absorb a huge amount of houses with 500 homes also planned on the other side of the village at Clayton Mills off Ockley Lane.

Other concerns include the fact the site is allocated as a green space in the emerging neighbourhood plan and could lead to coalescence of the village and Burgess Hill, as well as the potential impact on wildlife, flooding, drainage, air quality, infrastructure and traffic congestion.