East Grinstead Society

AGM Report: Into 2021

We had a virtual AGM in October due to Covid. James Baldwin was re-elected as Chairman. This is a summarised version of his Chairman’s report.

So, what a year! We made a great start with an increased emphasis on social media and publicising the Society, resulting in increased numbers at our first two meetings. And then the virus and lockdown struck. This resulted in a cancellation of the rest of our meetings programme for the year. However, I can only hope this is a temporary break: the good news is that we have been able to carry over the excellent Programme into 2021: so ready to go as soon as conditions allow.

I am delighted that we have the entire archive of Bulletins now on our website, making them readily accessible to everyone and for free!
Looking at our planning activities, we provided comments on the proposed further 772 houses for East Grinstead, with 550 on Imberhorne Farm stretching parallel with the Worth Way as far as Gullege, 200 on the backland in Felbridge along the Crawley Down Road and 22 on the Police Station site in East Court.

Our comments stressed concerns on services, infrastructure and roads to cope with the new housing. 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. We also continue to be concerned at the high level of flats being developed in the Town. This view is not simply an unnecessarily negative response but one underpinned by serious, and long recognised, issues around traffic congestion and an inadequate local road system, linked to need for the provision of proper amenities to meet a higher population.

On a very positive note, we have been delighted at the use of the High Street in the summer by local cafes and restaurants as something which did so much to raise local morale and showpiece the Town’s unique character. We hope our local Councils help promote this further next year.

One thing that has struck me this year as Chairman was the high level of emails I received from people interested in the Town, including broadcasters, travel writers and academics as well as members of the public. This highlights how important our role is in promoting awareness of the Town’s heritage, a role we can deliver even without our regular meetings!