East Grinstead Society

A Core Strategy for Mid Sussex

At the Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) Better Environment Advisory Group (BEAG) meeting in December 2009, the council leader rejected a draft Core Strategy document as it did not “accurately reflect the views of members or best serve the interests of residents” and instructed officers to redraft taking into account views of stakeholders and Parish Councils. We have been assured that the Society’s views will be sought during the next Core Strategy document preparation.

Improvements to the five main junctions in the town could improve traffic flow and reduce congestion and these should be taken forward. However, such improvements would not reduce congestion enough to accommodate the up to 2000 homes estimated by MSDC for the plan period to 2026.

In the absence of a sustainable Core Strategy East Grinstead’s Local Plan should remain the appropriate planning policy document to guide development here. As far back as 2004 the Plan stated that the existing highway network is no longer adequate, that new development should be restricted and that there is a total estimated capacity here of up to 179 dwellings. This in sharp contrast to infill building in recent years and those potential small developments identified in the Council’s regularly updated Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA).

In addition to taking account of traffic congestion, house-building in the Core Strategy must also comply with EU Habitats Regulations derived from the EU Habitats Directive, under which Ashdown Forest is given specific protection from increased air pollution and the effects of disturbance. We understand that the Habitats Regulations are being examined by MSDC in conjunction with Natural England. In the meantime a precautionary approach to any further building is indicated.