Thank you to all who joined the photocall this morning!

It was good to see so many of you at the photocall this morning. Please keep sharing information with your family, friends and neighbours. There are many issues that affect the wider community – particularly relating to the impact on the Princess Royal Hospital. Encourage others to submit comments and concerns about increased traffic and demand for parking at the Hospital.

Impact on the hospital

  • No assessment has been made as to the impact on the hospital of increased traffic coming and going through their site.
  • There will be a significant impact on patients and visitor parking
  • It is already a very busy site with a lot of traffic – routine and emergency vehicles.
  • If large-scale events are held and everyone leaves at midnight, what impact will this have on A&E?

All traffic using the community hall will have to go through the Princess Royal Hospital – in and out (whether accessing it from the roundabout or via Colwell Road).


  • The hospital is already very busy.
  • People are wandering around trying to locate the buildings they require.
  • Drivers try to find parking spaces.
  • Ambulances are coming and going – with regular patients and emergencies for A&E.
  • There are no footpaths on large stretches of the road
  • Lighting is poor
  • Visibility is limited

In addition to the car drivers using the community hall, pool and sports pitches throughout the day and into late evenings, there will be minibuses, coaches, taxis, delivery lorries and refuse lorries as well.

And then there’s all the construction traffic – the Town Council and Club have said that everything will have go through the hospital. It’s the only legal access.

Share your concerns with friends and family in the area. Ask them to comment on the planning application before Friday 21 April.


Photocall – Mid Sussex Times 0930 on Friday 14 April – join us

Calling all residents/neighbours and others interested!

When? 0930 Friday morning (14 April)

Where? Gardens outside 1-7 Park West, above the communal picnic area in Southdowns Park

Who? Everyone welcome

The Mid Sussex Times is coming on Friday morning at 0930 for a photograph for a piece on our planning concerns about the St Francis Social & Sports Club community hall application. We’ll meet in the garden above the picnic area just outside nos. 1-7 Park West

Please get as many people to join us as possible – bring your children, your pets, your neighbours, your friends – the more, the merrier! We appreciate it’s Easter – but we’ll only have one week left to make people aware and encourage them to submit their views to Mid Sussex District Council.

Email us at for more information.

Access solution: build a road from the Haywards Heath by-pass. Simple.

Many of the access issues could be resolved if a road were to be created from the by-pass to the St Francis sports facilities. Coaches, buses, minibuses, taxis and cars would all be able to access the community hall and facilities safely and efficiently.

A replacement community hall has been on the cards for almost ten years. So why has no-one taken this into account when planning and building the relief road and the two new major housing estates that adjoin the St Francis playing fields?

Why is this not under consideration now?

Tell Mid Sussex District Council what you think by commenting on the planning application here. Contact your local councillors at Haywards Heath Town Council and Sussex County Council to share your views.

What impact will the increase in traffic have on the Princess Royal Hospital?

Has the Haywards Heath Town Council thought about the real impact of this scheme on the Princess Royal Hospital? They have unanimously agreed to support the Social Club’s application, with a few caveats at their meeting. And only four days after the application was published. No consultation had taken place with residents.

Current users of the sports pitch and swimming pool are supposed to access via the Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) – either from the PRH entrance or by turning left at the mini roundabout at Southdowns Parks when coming in via Colwell Road. This is not what happens in practice as things stand, as residents will tell you.

The St Francis Social & Sports Club and Haywards Heath Town Council believe that some ‘strongly-worded signage’ will ensure that this is the case in future.

They have both agreed that all the works traffic for building the new hall will be required to come in and out via the hospital as well. The private road is far too narrow and the bends too tight on the west side for such traffic. And it is a private road intended only to service residential car parking. Public rights of access to the sports facilities are granted through the hospital.

But we have to ask: Is it really desirable or feasible for a major increase in traffic through this busy hospital? From early mornings through till midnight? Meeting the demands for large-scale events for up to 250 people? And in the shorter term, all the building construction works traffic.

The hospital has a busy A&E department. It is often extremely busy at evenings and weekends. Patients are coming and going for hospital appointments and day surgery all the time. Anyone living here who walks up to the hospital will tell you that there are people wandering around, crossing the roads – often lost, looking for directions to various hospital buildings on site. There are only pavements and footpaths for pedestrians on some parts of the road. It is hardly a safe environment at present. Any further increase in traffic on these roads is a real worry.

Do you use the hospital? What do you think?

What can I do?

There are many ways you can get involved.

Urgent deadline for comments to the council is 21 April 2017.

Send your comments to Mid Sussex District Council. You can say as much or as little as you like. Focus on the things that matter to you. Add your own opinions and examples – that is very powerful. Make sure you include your postal address or they will ignore your comments.

You can comment on the application and proposals here. Your letters may be published on this site once the council receive them.

Tell us what you think on Twitter @southdownslocal

Or email us at



Some background data, the planning application and council policies

The planning application from St Francis Social & Sports Club:

There are a number of documents that relate to this application – you can find them all here on the Mid Sussex District Council planning portal – along with any comments and letter from residents and councillors involved in the process. Please add your voice and comments to this!

And here are a few useful references documents, some of which are referenced in the planning application:

The leisure and culture strategy here :

Playing pitch strategy:

Open and recreation space assessment


Full report:

Haywards Heath Neighbourhood Plan can be found here:

Mid Sussex District Plan is here:










Traffic impact at Southdowns Park

Oh dear. This is a real issue. And not one the application seems to address with any seriousness. (Sorry, this is an opinion).

So the application assumes a vibrant, functioning community hall, set in an isolated field, with no public highway access whatsover. The venue is only accessed through a private maintained (or otherwise) road. Or through a public hospital with a busy A&E department.

All the roads are narrow, with tight bends and therefore limited access for larger vehicles (delivery lorries, coaches and buses). Parking is extremely limited – and the application proposal for parking does not cater for the large-scale event numbers envisaged.

The application proposes the removal of the tennis courts to provide parking – but the c.40 spaces will not begin to accommodate the large 250-people events that are envisaged.

The traffic assessment which has been conducted has used a universally accepted methodology known as TRICS.  The study has benchmarked this application with what it considers to be comparable schemes in other cities.

A fundamental assumption in this report is that this hall is a like-for-like replacement for the Norman Hay Hall (a disused and defunct facility at the point of its destruction in 2006) community facility on the edge of the Southdowns Park site. It assumes traffic and usage levels at a like-for-like level, despite the fact that there has been no facility there for more than ten years, and the development and profile of the surrounding areas has  not been taken into account.

Assessment of usage has focused on peak hours (ie rush hour) Monday to Friday which is not the common or anticipated usage of these facilities – they will be popular at evenings and weekends, and during school hours. This impact has not been considered appropriately. You can read the report here.

Currently there is no access at all from either of the two large housing estates either side of the playing fields. The application assumes usage from people within 5-minutes walk from the venue. This could not be achieved under current arrangements, given the walls and fences that isolate these housing developments from the area. Local councillors are campaigning to increase that isolation, concerned about the impact on local housing and parking.

So how will people access the site? Access from the by-pass would address the majority of these issues. But this does not seem to be something that the council or the club seems to be considering. But if further enhancement of sports facilities at this site is seriously under consideration, then addressing the infrastructure NOW would be both sensible and pragmatic for all concerned, surely?

If you have any views at all on this, please tell Mid Sussex District Council about them now – deadline for consultation is 21 April 2017. You can add your comments here or submit them via email here.


Will it be noisy?

As part of the planning application, the architects and design team have looked at the environmental impact of the proposed development. The report can be found here. Some residents have raised concerns that the ‘travelling’ impact of any music, sports or events has not been addressed in this – it seems only gardens adjacent to the pitches were monitored. Nothing was measured during football matches. (And of course, as there is no event venue there at present, there are no comparable music events taken into account).

Have your say here by 21 April if you have any comments or concerns.

Have your say – New planning application for community hall submitted to MSDC

You have until 21 April to comment on the St Francis Social & Sports Club planning application for a new community hall at Southdowns Park. You can find the application and associated documents here on the Mid Sussex District Council planning portal. The development proposes a large, two-storey extension to the existing 18m swimming pool, with enhancement to changing facilities, and conversion of the current tennis courts into parking. This extension will provide a cafe and licensed space for regular events for up to 250 people, running until midnight on any day of the week.  In due course the club plans to create an additional three all-weather sports pitches to be available 24/7 to enhance sports provision in Haywards Heath. This phase is not part of the current application.

The council has awarded a grant of £1.12m (see their news page here.) The community hall is intended to be a replacement for the former disused Norman Hay Hall, which was destroyed by fire in 2006. The monies were provided by housing developers as part of a Section 106 agreement.

There are a number of issues that residents feel should be considered by the planning authority regarding the suitability of the location, with regard to road, pedestrian and cycle access.

The site is only currently only accessible via a private road which is not maintained by the council – so is never repaired, cleared, cleaned or gritted by them. It is narrow, with blind bends. And barely sufficient space in parts for two cars to pass. There are two children’s play areas on either side of the road. There are no public footpaths or pavements. Lighting is extremely poor.  This road currently serves residents, providing access to their private parking. Public rights of way are permitted to access the football pitch, bowls club, tennis courts and swimming pool via the Princess Royal Hospital.

Post your comments to the council here. Please include your postal address – otherwise the council may disregard your comments.

Welcome to Southdowns Park

Southdowns Park

This website is run by and for the residents of Southdowns Park.

We love this place! it has so much history. It’s a truly beautiful setting. And we are all very aware of the precious nature of this amazing place. It’s been here for over 150 years. The main building is grade II listed – it costs us a lot to keep it viable. But we believe it is worth it. It’s an important part of Haywards Heath history. It’s a gorgeous place. And we want people to be enjoying it 100 years from now.

We love the way Haywards Heath is developing and growing. We support change and development.

If this is the right place for a huge growth in sport then we will support that – but the infrastructure needs to be right to make that happen.

We have concerns that if the sports pitches and proposed community hall are developed at St Francis Sports and Social Club, then the council must give proper attention to access. Currently there are no public roads, footpaths or cycleways that serve this area. It is only accessed by a privately maintained road – narrow, with blind bends, two children’s play areas directly off the road, with no adequate pavements and poor lighting.

If access was created from the Haywards Heath relief road, most of these issues could be addressed. But as things stand, this seems to be a very poor location for a community facility. Parking is limited. There is no capacity for coaches or buses, given the tight bends and narrow roads. Most access is via a busy hospital with a live A&E department. This is hardly ideal.

Residents urge councillors at all levels to step back and consider the appropriate infrastructure to make this development possible. We want to work with the planning authorities to get that right, so we can support this. Currently it is hard to see how that can work.