MID Sussex Borough Council has confirmed its decision to adopt a planning document setting out locations for 1,704 homes.
The Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD), which includes a science and technology park west of Burgess Hill and seven jobs, was originally approved in June.
However, the South of Folders Lane Action Group filed a legal challenge, with Robert Eggleston (Lib Dem – Burgess Hill, Meeds) issuing a complaint challenging the decision on the basis of an error of law.
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The challenge centered on two documents – a sustainability assessment and a summary of responses to the public consultation – which were not attached to the June report and were only provided in the form of a link.
It was understood that Council members had not been specifically instructed to read either document.
While the council’s legal advisers believed all members would have access to all relevant documents, an extraordinary meeting was held on Wednesday (10 August) to “avoid unnecessary costs for taxpayers”.
During the meeting, Mr Eggleston tabled an amendment asking the Council to ask Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Leveling Up, to repeal the DPD.
After the meeting, he said: “I wanted to make it clear that I am not against the making of plans or the district plan or the need for a five-year land supply.
“But what I objected to was the expansion of the district plan – the DPD area allocation – which was no longer expedient.
“The passage of the environmental law and the start of a further review of the district plan – with potentially another 7,000 apartments – has changed the development landscape in such a way that it was right for us to look at the DPD land use plan again.”
The amendment was rejected – a decision which Mr Eggleston said would mean that “some parts of Mid Sussex will receive a lower level of environmental protection than others”.
Councilor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Chair of Mid Sussex Borough Council, said: “The Foreign Secretary’s Inspector was satisfied that the development plan document for the site assignments was in compliance with the law. To revoke the entire DPD would be a completely disproportionate reaction.
“It would leave Mid Sussex without a plan to show the borough can meet its housing needs and remove the protections we have against speculative development as the council resumes all the work we have done over the last few years would have to record three years at high cost to the taxpayer.
“It is seldom that everyone agrees on every location in a plan. But the only way to keep Mid Sussex special and avoid running a developer free for all is to have a plan and keep it updated.”
Mr Eggleston said: “My concern for sites like the country south of Folders Lane is that the development plan will only add pressure for further development in an already environmentally sensitive area.
“I have no doubt that the developers will continue to circle the land south of Folders Lane looking for further development opportunities and unfortunately the plan making process [the council] started has not curtailed the developers’ ambitions.
“We’re looking at communities growing together through stealth, and it’s important that we go back to the drawing board and create a plan to prevent that from happening.”
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/20712094.mid-sussex-housing-allocations-plan-adopted/?ref=rss Mid Sussex Housing Allocation Plan Reapproved