Public Meeting Questions & Comments

Below are the questions you wanted answered by the Leader of Burgess Hill Town Council, Andrew-Barrett-Miles at our Open Public Meeting on 1st October, but were unable to ask due to time constraints etc. These have today (11th October) been sent to the Councillor, and his detailed responses have been requested.

There were also some comments left, and those too have been forwarded, along with our own Burgess Hill Action Group questions and comments.

As promised, we will endeavour to obtain a response to each of these from the councillor on your behalf, and will publish those here on the BHAG website. Once again, thank you for attending the meeting.

Questions left after the Public Meeting:

1. Ardingly reservoir cannot sustain another 10,000+ houses. Where is the water supply coming from and are we getting another reservoir?

2. Doctors surgeries - you have to book 1 week in advance. What is happening regarding this problem at present let alone the future?

3. There is a very real danger on the serious possibility of a flood plain being created due to this proposed development, similar to what has happened in Uckfield and Lewes in recent years. What are your plans to prevent or guard against this happening?

4. What are the amenities (if any) proposed under this new development in the Northern Arc and Kingsway. Folders Keep and Folders Meadow have recently been built, how is Birchwood Grove primary school going to cope?

5. I asked where/how water and waste were to go, surely the sewerage plant can’t cope with the increased load of ‘s**t’ and our reservoir will be permanently very low if not empty?

6. Where is all the water and sewerage going to be dealt with? S/E already in drought situation.

7. Doesn’t appear to be any fine situation if the developers don’t do as they say. Why not? They seem to walk all over the councils.

Comments left after the Public Meeting:

1. We need more schools, community centres, doctors surgeries.

2. Re-use derelict houses empty for 20+ years.

3. Disproportionate housing allocation BH is taking compared with HH & EG. It questions our councillors approach to do their best for BH.

4. The development on the east side of BH and money being used to improve Ditchling Common. Why isn't East Sussex paying for this and why are there not housing developments around Ditchling & Wivelsfield Green etc.?

5. We do need some housing for the future, but main concern is that the utility infrastructure such as water, schools, roads and more will be forgotten by the developers and planners.

Additional questions from BHAG:

1. Can we see the calculations that were performed which resulted in the Town Council putting it’s hand up for such an unreasonable share of the district’s housing target? Who was responsible for such an arbitrary set of figures, and where was this documented? Were there alternative scenarios with alternative figures? Why wasn’t a plan proposed which addresses the housing needs of Burgess Hill, based on its population as a percentage of all residents in Mid-Sussex, i.e. around 2400?

2. You have been upfront in admitting that currently BHTC have no formal processes to track/account for development monies i.e. S106. There also seems to be an issue with regard to public access to these figures, which has given rise to much misinformation and disagreement on several public forums of late. In light of this less than ideal situation, will the Town Council be ensuring significantly better accounting practices, processes and transparency with the developments at Kings Way and the Northern Arc? Perhaps with such large projects all the relevant accounts and processes should be independently reviewed and audited in detail, with the results published in a timely manner?

3. It has long been identified, by numerous studies, groups and individuals that the rail links through Burgess Hill are running at full capacity, with little or no opportunity for future expansion. Given the proposed 50% increase in the population of Burgess Hill, let alone the growth in populations of neighbouring towns and villages dependant on the mainline into London and down to the south coast, what measures will be taken to relieve the misery that both existing and future rail commuters will have to endure?

4. Little or no new road building or improvement to existing road infrastructure has been planned with regard to town-centre or cross-town access. Is it realistic to assume that the thousands of additional residents will be happy to cycle or get the bus, or is it simply the case that people will be forced to abandon their cars if they wish to get into or across town? Is it true that only 10% of the proposed dwellings at Kings Way will be encouraged to be ‘car-less’? Will the council even be able to find a bus company willing to run services in the light of the collapse of Countryliner Sussex this week?

5. With recent newspaper reports highlighting the capacity crisis at the Princess Royal Hospital, with wards having to be closed to new admissions for several days, how can local residents be reassured that their healthcare needs will continue to be met? The proposals for a new local medical centre for Burgess Hill are already in question due to concerns over NHS funding cuts. What about the additional requirement for A&E and maternity services?

6. The Northern Arc development is being excluded from BH's Neighbourhood Plan, and also Ansty & Staplefield's. How do those residents directly affected by this development have their opinions heard?

7. BHTC website says that all the 'small scale housing sites' put forward in Robert Mellor’s report have now been adopted by MSDC. What is happening with the development of these 869 dwellings?

8. Can you provide an update on the details surrounding the c£1m developer’s money promised for Bolnore village for community facilities, which was apparently never actually paid due to the Council not doing what was required within fixed time limits?

Additional comments from BHAG:

1. We believe Burgess Hill Town council have acted in a fashion which goes way beyond their remit as our elected representatives. If Neighbourhood Plans have to be put to a referendum, then surely strategic proposals such as the Town Wide Strategy should also be put to the public vote. The referendum should cover the full range of developments, and not just the smaller ones addressed by the Neighbourhood Plans. Wording of the question(s) should be fair and transparent, and agreed by all interested parties in advance, unlike those in the recent non-binding ‘consultations’ where individuals didn’t have to give their names and could respond multiple times.

2. The Town Council consultation was not, as it has been described ‘robust’. We believe it to be anything but. Whilst the consultation was obliged to record and report the objections raised, there was no attempt made to address any of the concerns raised. Indeed, the inclusion of the Burgess Hill Town Wide Strategy into the Mid Sussex Draft District Plan appears to have been a foregone conclusion. Without it, the district plan could not have been adopted on the 27th June this year. Such a consultation, where the integrity of the submissions can clearly be challenged as being unsound, cannot therefore be presented as a fair and representative view of the residents opinions. In so doing, the Town Council has failed to demonstrate an acceptable level of diligence in canvassing the opinion of the towns’ residents, and therefore has no ethical basis on which to proceed.

3. In our opinion, it is totally unacceptable that ex-industrial sites in Burgess Hill such as the Keymer Tile Works site and the former Sewage Treatment Works are currently regarded as ‘unviable’ whilst the truly greenfield sites adjacent to them are deemed perfectly viable. The only consideration here seems to be profit, and very little thought is being given to the legacy the council will leave future generations of residents.