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.