East Grinstead Society

Proposed development of 2,500 homes at East Grinstead

Background

The West Sussex County Council Structure Plan was adopted at the end of 2004 following an Examination in Public (EiP) in December 2002, at which this society opposed the Plan. An area to the west and southwest of the town was identified as a Strategic Location for 2,500 homes. Associated with the new homes several “relief road” route options were proposed by Mid-Sussex District Council (MSDC) in successive Area Action Plans (AAPs). Most options would pass through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). A traffic report has indicated that not one option would reduce traffic congestion in the town, indeed that all options would add to it. This is important because a requirement of the Structure Plan is that without significant traffic relief to 2004 levels the development should not proceed and alternative proposals should be prepared.

Current situation

MSDC has issued, for 8 weeks’ public consultation starting 24th January 2008, a Core Strategy pre-submission document covering mid Sussex district; Chapter 7 is about East Grinstead. At its heart, regrettably, remains the draft Area Action Plan (AAP) for 2,500 homes and associated relief road objected to in May 2006 by almost 7000 individuals and organisations. Analysis by planning specialists shows that the plan for so many houses at East Grinstead is fundamentally flawed and that other better-placed sites do exist in north mid Sussex.

Should the relief road described in the AAP not be suitable or deliverable then the Core Strategy is required by government to include contingency options. But the only options proposed by MSDC are two similar ones based on 1,500 homes roughly in the same area – one with and one without a partial relief road. These twin options are just as unsuitable as the 2,500 homes plan because they perpetuate its main weaknesses, notably distance from major employment opportunities at Crawley/Gatwick, increased traffic congestion and damage to East Grinstead’s character.

MSDC has chosen (should the 2,500 homes plan at East Grinstead be shown to be undeliverable) not to include in the Core Strategy a much more suitable option, namely a location to the east of the M23 at Crabbet Park which could be a site for over 2,000 homes. This site would provide good access to Crawley and could be integrated easily with the existing Fastway bus service. It is described in another section of the Core Strategy document at Chapter 11 but only as a contingency if present plans fail, not as an option for serious consideration in the current plan.

Campaign

The East Grinstead Post Referendum Campaign (PRC), supported by this Society and other local organisations, opposes the Plan for 2500 homes and the so-called relief road. For details of the PRC campaign and background see www.eghouses.org.uk