East Grinstead Society

Site Allocations and Development Plan Document (DPD) – July 2020 Response by The East Grinstead Society

We commented on the Draft of this plan in November 2019 and regret that so little has been varied in the ensuing period to July 2020.

As before our comments relate to both the general context of East Grinstead and three specific sites in the DPD, SA18, SA19, and SA20. We end with some general conclusions.


Our start point is that we see no evidence of unmet demand for more housing in East Grinstead when there is so much unfilled accommodation. We believe that there is an overwhelming view in the Town that it is necessary to protect its unique market town heritage and not let it slip further into being a satellite of Crawley. This view is not simply an unnecessarily negative response but one underpinned by serious and and long recognised issues around traffic congestion and an inadequate local road system.

Regarding the general situation SA35 – Safeguarding of land for and Delivery of Strategic Highway Improvements – is of particular relevance. This effectively concedes that the developments now proposed in the DPD will cause unacceptable road congestion throughout the East Grinstead area without major road improvements. It identifies the land that should be safeguarded to support the delivery of transport schemes, particularly the A22/A264 corridor upgrades at Felbridge, Imberhorne Lane and Lingfield Road. It goes on to suggest that there will be a need for further consultations between MSDC, WSCC and other relevant parties, presumably Surrey County Council and Tandridge District Council but particularly East Grinstead Town Council.

Considering the long history of the congestion issue and its continuing impact on the issue of development in and around East Grinstead it is wishful thinking in the extreme to offer consultation as a key to unlock the issue without any evidence of any chance of success this time.

Thus until these consultations have taken place, a plan of action agreed and the works commenced it would appear to be imprudent to commence the housing developments envisaged in the DPD.

There is a major omission from the proposed list of safeguarded land in SA35. This is the junction of the Crawley Down Road and the A264. The two roads meet at a very acute angle and we are led to understand that the green space at this junction which would apparently allow expansion of the junction is protected by the terms of a gift to the people of Felbridge so this is a non-starter as conjestion mitigation.

Specific Sites

SA18 Police Station East Court

The site is adjacent to the East Court Mansion which is a listed building with a large conservation area around it. The existing parking facilities relate to the needs of the council offices and the hirers of the public buildings on the site. The private road that services these buildings is narrow and is only provided for visitors and not for through traffic. The junctions for this private road with the public road network are not suitable for significant extra traffic. Any parking facilities required for this proposed development will have to be within the site and not spill over into the Mansion parking facilities. There is a childrens’ playground close by which must be protected from the potential threat of through traffic.

Furthermore we think there are some important underlying questions. What are the implications for the Old Court House which is joined to the Police Station and could it be incorporated into the scheme? Have any surveys been undertaken to study the stability of the land to ensure that the development would not slip into Blackwell Hollow?

SA19 Backland along Crawley Down Road

This proposal is complicated by the fact that the 200 houses would be in Mid-Sussex but the road access would be in Surrey. There is a well-filled primary school in Felbridge and an indifferent bus service but for all other services the inhabitants would have to look to East Grinstead. It has been established that to prevent coalescence of communities there should be no internal routes to connect the site with East Grinstead so access to these services would have to be by road using the road network referred to earlier in this note which has been recognised as unsatisfactory and congested. This is another problem for the joint councils working party on traffic mitigation to resolve before the housing scheme could be commenced.

SA20 Imberhorne Farm

This scheme for 550 houses has major implications for the road network. The scheme would be accessed by a substantial roundabout opposite Heathcote Drive on Imberhorne Lane. Imberhorne Lane will have to bear the pressure of traffic from the Hill Place Farm development on the Turners Hill Road, the Imberhorne and Garden Wood estates, traffic to and from Hazelden crossroads and, of course, that acccessing the enlarged secondary school.

Regarding the enlarged secondary school much has been made of the benefit of combining the upper and lower portions. We look for clarification as to whether the proposal merely provides space for a school that caters for todays population or will there be adequate facilities for the children of these new developments as well?

General Conclusions

We note that the DPD is based on the world as it existed when the District Plan was originally prepared and things have moved on since then. In consequence the needs of the area have altered substantially, the DPD has not.

We have little office space available due to permitted development schemes ( and do not know indeed if such space will ever be in demand again), with office space changing into flats with further ones in prospect. Added to this may be redundant shops. Changing working practices may alter the demand and we cannot be certain that all the new housing is going to be filled, wuth current schemes yet to be filled

We are concerned that the character of the Town will be sacrificed for an empty prize, leaving its residents with congestion and a Town that is a dormitory of Crawley but with a load of empty accommodation.