Scheme for ‘Soviet-style flats’ in Haywards Heath approved

Illustrative artists' impression of up to 30 homes south of Old Rocky Lane (picture from Mid Sussex District Council's planning portal). SUS-160513-095920001
Illustrative artists' impression of up to 30 homes south of Old Rocky Lane (picture from Mid Sussex District Council's planning portal). SUS-160513-095920001

A scheme for up to 30 homes in Haywards Heath described as ‘Soviet-style’ flats by residents has been approved by the district council.

Developer Crest Nicholson was granted outline planning permission for land south of Old Rocky Lane and north of the new relief road by Mid Sussex District Council’s Planning Committee B on Thursday May 12.

This was despite residents raising concerns around potential conflict between traffic accessing the site and both cyclists and pedestrians, as well as the impact on wildlife and nearby Grade II listed properties.

Resident Mark Cragg suggested the scheme would create ‘Soviet-style low rise blocks’ and lead to dangerous conflict between vehicles and other road users.

Meanwhile Karen Edwards said the ‘visual impact was too much’ as this part of Haywards Heath had been ‘totally overdeveloped’, leaving no pockets of green space in the area.

But she recognised the council was being ‘railroaded’ into approving applications under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) without a proven up-to-date supply of housing.

Howard Mundin (Con, Haywards Heath - Ashenground) said this part of Haywards Heath had seen a ‘dramatic’ increase in population and expressed disappointment that the piece of land that could have created a ‘green oasis’ was the subject of a planning application.

Although he agreed with the ‘legitimate concerns’ of residents, he struggled to find any planning reasons to refuse the application.

Cherry Catharine (Con, Burgess Hill - Leylands) added: “We are just trying to cram too much on to the site, but I do not think we have good planning reasons to refuse it.”

Officers explained that the site was used as a reptile relocation area from the phase one development south of the relief road, with a large population of protected slow worms breeding.

But they would now be relocated to a bigger site to the west of the Sandrocks development.

They also told councillors that since it was an outline application the committee was only deciding if the access and principle of development was acceptable, and any suggested layout or artists’ impressions were indicative as these details would be approved at the reserved matters stage.

The applicant was looking to retain trees on the northern boundary of the site, some of which are covered by Tree Preservation Orders.

Colin Trumble (Con, Hurstpierpoint and Downs), who explained he had spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe, said: “I do think we are carpeting our lovely district with buildings that are often less than desirable.”

On the proposed access to the site Mr Trumble added: “I do tear what little hair I have got left about the reports that come out from West Sussex County Council highways.”

But he conceded they were the ‘acknowledged experts’.

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