MP objects to Hassocks housing plan

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has today (31 October) written to Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, raising his “serious concerns” about a proposed allocation of 500 houses in Hassocks.

Mr Herbert’s letter sets out his strong objections to a proposed modification to the Mid Sussex District Plan, which is currently under examination.  The Council has proposed an amendment to strengthen its five-year land supply in response to the Planning Inspector’s comment that the current supply of 5.2 years was “not hugely comfortable”. 

Mid Sussex has responded to the Planning Inspector by proposing a strategic allocation of 500 houses on a parcel of land north of Clayton Mills in Hassocks.  The proposal was put forward by the developer Gleeson’s, on a site which was already allocated for a maximum of 140 houses in the draft Hassocks neighbourhood plan. 

In his letter, Nick Herbert writes that he has “serious concerns” about the proposed strategic allocation, warning that the number of houses is unsustainably high.  He points out that if all the planned development goes ahead, the number of houses in the village would increase by a third in just two decades.  He adds that there is insufficient local infrastructure to support development on this scale. 

Mr Herbert goes on to raise concerns about the erosion of the green space  between Burgess Hill and Hassocks, with the gap reducing to a little over half a mile if the 500 houses are built. 

The MP says that the Planning Inspector “has shown too little regard for the importance of neighbourhood planning”, and points out that the neighbourhood planning process allows for careful local consultation over a period of years, whereas a strategic site would be imposed on the village in a short period of time. The modification, he says, is licensing random developer-led development over plan-led housing. 

Mr Herbert recognises the need to increase the supply of homes nationally, and says that Hassocks must play its part in helping to deliver some of those houses.  But he argues that an increase in the size of a village on the proposed scale and outside the neighbourhood plan “is not the right way forward”. 

The MP says that Mid Sussex District Council has been put in a “difficult position” by the Planning Inspector, and he concludes by asking the Secretary of State to confirm that the Council’s current land supply of 5.2 years does not require it to pursue the proposed modification “so that a proper neighbourhood planning process in Hassocks can resume”. 

ENDS

 

Notes

   1.     To read Nick Herbert’s letter to the Secretary of State in full see here.

  2.     To read the Mid Sussex District Council Schedule of Main Modifications see http://www.midsussex.gov.uk/media/80021/bp1b_scheduleofmainmodifications.pdf.

   3.     To read the Mid Sussex District Council District Plan, including link to the consultation response see http://www.midsussex.gov.uk/planning-licensing-building-control/planning-policy/local-development-framework/district-plan/.

   4.     To read Nick's news release, issued after he spoke at the Mid Sussex District Plan inquiry (December 2016), see here.

   5.      To read Nick's news release commenting on the Planning Inspector's interim report and proposed higher number housing (February 2017) see here.

   6.     To read Nick's news release 'MP wins protection for neighbourhood plans' (December 2016) see here.