Town Council Provide Chanctonbury Road Allotment Update At Annual Town Meeting
1st June 2023 |
Burgess Hill residents were given an update on the status of the endangered Chanctonbury Road Allotment site during the Burgess Hill Annual Town Meeting by Cllr Robert Eggleston along with news on increasing Allotment provision in the town.
Late last year, the Chanctonbury Road Allotments in Burgess Hill appeared on the site allocation list for the revised Mid Sussex Distirct Plan. A plan which will see approximately 8,000 additional new homes required across Mid Sussex until 2039 - this is in addition to the thousands already allocated in the existing District Plan which includes the Northern Arc development.
Network Rail have leased the site to the town council for over 60 years but have now decided to make the land available for residential development as part of a larger site which includes the railway station yard.
Cllr Robert Eggleston
In an update, Cllr Eggleston told the residents at the meeting on Monday 22nd May that Mid Sussex District Council have hired a firm to look at land within Burgess Hill which could be suitable for allotment use. Even if the Chanctonbury Allotments are retained, the town is still in a deficit of provision with over 150 people on a waiting list. The work
on identifying land is nearly complete.
The sort of land being looked at is classed as 'open space' and costs considerably less than land which is available for housing development.
'Without making any promises, the expectation would be that should land be made available and the cost of acquiring it - whether as an outright purchase or a long-term lease
- would be something well within the financial capabilities of the Town Council." said Cllr Eggleston
The conversion of land into allotments would be eligible for funding from s106 Developer Contributions and the Local Community Infrastructure Fund.
A resident asked how the allotment land ended up being part of the draft District Plan when there is a statutory obligation for a council to provide alloments.
Cllr Eggleston said it was a surprise that the Chanctonbury Allotments appeared on the list of sites at the MSDC Scrutiny Committee meeting - when the site had never come up at any of the working group meetings - that's why councillors subsequently tried to have it removed.
The updated District Plan policies and the existing Burgess Hill Neighbourhood Plan both say not to move the allotments. Councillors, residents and even other developers - who want the site canned in favour of theirs elsewhere in the district - are arguing for its removal.
"We all want to see it removed and it has to be done on an evidenced-based process.
We cant just arm-wrestle officers into just taking it out. It has to be a compliant evidenced-based process, and if you don't follow that, you end up in court and in a whole world of pain.'' he said
Another resident asked if the balance of the new Mid Sussex District Council could see the site removed at the next Scrutiny Committee meeting.
Speaking ahead of the formation of the new MSDC administation, Cllr Eggleston said:"I can't promise that it will be successful next time round and don't want to tie the hands of the next scrutiny committee - as it's not in my power to tie anybodies hands."
Councillors and campaigners met with Allotment plot holders back in October.
If the Town Council look to go down the route of a compulsory purchase order, there would be difficulties over the land valuation as Network Rail would want it classed as land suitable for development while the Town Council would want it classed as open space - which attracts a much cheaper value.
'This situation is fraught with difficulties' said Cllr Eggleston.
Since the meeting, a new joint administration on Mid Sussex District Council between the Liberal Democrats and the Independent Group has been formed, it will enable them to
'constructively engage' with officers about the situation regarding removing the site and the possible legal issues of doing so.
|Spread the word! An update has been given on the future of Allotment provision in Burgess Hill