Despite strong and consistent opposition on the part of Mid Sussex District Council, The South East Plan requires Mid Sussex to accommodate 17,100 new homes between 2006 and 2026.
In the more immediate term, Mid Sussex is also required to have a ‘five-year supply' of allocated housing sites. If the Council does not do this then developers will be able put forward their own sites and if the Council refuses them it is likely the applications will be approved on appeal. By ensuring that the Core Strategy allocates sufficient sites to provide a rolling five year supply, the Council retains control over where these will be and can negotiate the best deal for the community in terms of the infrastructure that accompanies them.
The Better Environment Advisory Group (BEAG) will consider a report that proposes allocating housing sites to meet the ‘five year supply' requirement. The report proposes that the Council should therefore identify sites for 2,700 homes by 2018. These sites will also contribute a further 1,935 towards the post 2018 supply.
Planning Officers are recommending the inclusion of 3 sites out of 49, one of which is in East Grinstead: 500 homes at the Land West of East Grinstead (Imberhorne Farm) in the period until 2018, with a further 70 homes subsequently. Other recommendations include 3,800 new homes on land to the north and north west of Burgess Hill (2000 before 2018) and 275 homes at Hurst Farm, Haywards Heath. Members of the Better Environment Advisory Group will discuss all the potential options before making their recommendations to Full Council ahead of a meeting in December.
In December 2008 a developers' consortium involved in the planned strategic development of 2,500 homes in East Grinstead advised the Council that a relief road in the area was no longer financially viable. Opposition from neighbouring counties to the delivery of the road also posed a challenge to the planned work. A study by Atkins Limited, funded by the Department for Transport, suggested that without a relief road, a maximum number of 570 new homes was feasible due to the potential impact on the surrounding transport network.
"Mid Sussex District Council has consistently opposed the Government's imposition of a housing target of 17,100 new homes for our District. This number amounts to a 30% increase in our current housing stock - a stratospheric, and in my view totally unreasonable, increase," said Councillor Temple-Smithson, Cabinet Member for Planning.
"We are by no means anti-housing. We fully understand that a level of new housing is required to stimulate the local economy and meet the needs of future generations. However, new housing development must be delivered through controlled, sensible planning, not arbitrary numbers imposed by Central Government. It must also be accompanied by appropriate infrastructure improvements, and, whilst I recognise that there are a number of serious issues that will have to be worked through, I believe that the proposals for development at Imberhorne Farm would offer the opportunity to address some key infrastructure challenges, not least on the transport and education front.
"Clearly there is a possibility that the South East Plan will be substantially reviewed or abolished well before 2026, although that does not mean we would abandon all plans for new housing development. We are therefore seeking to present a Core Strategy that meets our legal obligations, but is sufficiently flexible to be compatible with any future changes in Government policy."
29 September 2009