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Burgess Hill Allotments In Serious Danger As Conservatives Opt To Dump More Homes On The Town

30th October 2022 | By Peter Chapman

The rumours turned out to be true, with the proposed update to the Mid Sussex District Plan seeing the 1,600 'Cuck-stye' development removed from the long list while 300 homes for the Burgess Hill Station area have made it to the consultation stage - pending approval from full council this wednesday evening.

The site in the centre of town includes the Queens Crescent Car Park, the Railway Station car park, Dorton's Reclamation Yard AND the Chanctonbury Allotment site - which currently provides 64 plots for local residents.

The town has 261 allotment plots across 6 sites (4 owned, 2 leased) with a waiting list of 240.

According to Mid Sussex District Council, Burgess Hill has a deficit of 115 plots, so potentially losing a whole site to avoid upsetting the voters in Cuckfield and Ansty is yet another bitter pill to swallow for local residents.

At the MSDC Scrutiny Committee meeting for Planning, Economic Growth and Net Zero which took place on Tuesday 18th October, Cllr Robert Eggleston argued that site 'DPH7' should be removed from the list because the allotments are protected in the town council's Neighbourhood Plan. His amendment was rejected by the Conservative majority on the committee.

Council Officers commented during the debate that if alternative allotment space cannot be found, then its likely that the site would be rejected at inspection, or the allotment portion of the site would be spared, with perhaps a 150-home development being acceptable instead - if financially worthwhile for a developer.

As a long-time follower of planning, a piece of land being protected in a Neighbourhood Plan only helps in the 'weighing up' process, where other 'benefits' could see a planning application proposal win out and the allotments lost.

Councillors and campaigners met with Allotment plot holders last Sunday.

Burgess Hill's Conservative Councillors Respond
In response to the representations made by Burgess Hill's councillors, Cllr Samantha Smith (Dunstall, MSDC) and Cllr Mustak Miah (Dunstall, Town Council) have both taken to social media to address the situation.

Cllr Mustak Miah wrote: ' This is a community garden for growing fruits and vegetables, let’s hope this area remains untouched for the community.' which provoked a response from Cllr Robert Eggleston who suggested that Cllr Miah may wish to disgard his blue rosette if he feels so strongly about the issue as Mr Eggleston does himself.

Cllr Samantha Smith questioned why the lease for the allotment hadn't been secured by Burgess Hill Town Council. She later responded to a resident, stating: The town council should have secured a better footing for this allotment. At the end of the day BHTC are responsible for all of them and should have a better contract to secure them. There is also a large waiting list so clearly there is a need so should be protecting the ones we have. Not just increase rent for them!

Mims Davies MP also weighed in: 'SPOT ON SAM - TOWN COUNCILíS are RESPONSIBLE FOR ALLOTMENTS and when I was a local CLLR - it was a key responsibility to deliver on - brownfield housing is to be roundly welcomed but NOT at the expense of losing the allotments and they should be properly sourced and managed by the Parish or Town Council responsibility - throwing hands up is not a viable excuse on lack of protection via poor lease management.' - the Mid Sussex MP's comment was 'liked' by Cllr Miah.

Cllr Robert Eggleston Lib Dem responded: Mims Davies MP - ' I am afraid you need to check your facts here and stop making misleading statements. Town Council's have responsibility for what are known as statutory allotments.

'In this instance the land is owned by Network Rail and they lease the land to the Town Council (and have done so for around 60 years). They have never been willing to sell the land or grant a long lease to the Council. The Town Council was granted a new lease in 2010 (note that is two thousand and ten).

Cllr Eggleston followed up with another comment, calling for Mims to correct her 'misrepresentation of the facts'

Cllr Eggleston meets with an allotment holder at the Chanctonbury site

All eyes will be on Wednesday's full council meeting at Mid Sussex District Council to see if the Conservatives change their mind and remove the site from the list of submissions for the updated District Plan.

Spread the word, The Chanctonbury Allotments could be lost to housing development

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