An outline application for a development of up to 375 homes in Haywards Heath has been approved by Mid Sussex District Council.
The application for the site at Hurst Farm, Hurstwood Lane, was submitted by the council and Cross Stone Securities, and debated by members of the district planning committee on Thursday August 9.
The committee spent two hours discussing issues relating to traffic and access to the new site, while all other matters – such as the design and layout of the housing, plans for a two form entry primary school, a burial ground, allotments, country park, ‘green way’ and car parking – were reserved.
This means that, while the application has laid out how the site could develop, the reserved matters will be brought back to the council for approval at a later date, usually within three years of outline planning permission being given.
The traffic and access issues led to plenty of debate, having made up the bulk of the concerns raised in more than 140 letters of objection.
Speaking at the meeting, resident Roger Brocklehurst described much of the data in the planning report as ‘woefully deficient, incorporating deeply flawed and inappropriate models that should never be used in the context but are defended on the basis that they are the best available’.
He added: “For a project potentially having such an overwhelming effect on the town, that is quite simply not acceptable.”
His concerns – and those of several committee members, as well as Haywards Heath Town Council – centred around the safety of people having to cross the A272, particularly schoolchildren, and the decision not to include traffic lights at the junction of Fox Hill and Hurstwood Lane.
In its submission to the committee, the town council stated: “This is critical, because Hurstwood Lane as a commuter rat-run will be blocked, therefore increasing traffic movements down through Fox Hill.
“Traffic lights will reduce speed and provide much needed traffic calming in the Fox Hill area.”
Ian Gledhill, representing West Sussex County Council’s highways department, insisted the models used to determine the traffic flow in the area were ‘robust’.
He said that, while he ‘took on board’ people’s concerns about safety, he did not think there was a need for traffic lights at the junction, and the impact of traffic on the area was ‘considered acceptable’.
Mr Gledhill told the meeting that a traffic survey had been conducted in the area – and there was some derision when he said it was carried out for a couple of hours in the morning and afternoon at peak time.
In the planning report, West Sussex County Council, in its role as highways authority, said: “The county council accept that the development will result in additional traffic at peak times and these will add to queues and delays.
“Comparing the with and without Hurst Farm scenarios, it’s considered that the development would not result in a severe capacity impact.”
The application was approved to calls of ‘unbelievable’ and ‘incredible’ from objectors.