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27/02/2020 – Press Release – Eleven Storeys: Same Old Tories

Burgess Hill Labour Party is concerned about the latest New River Retail proposals for an eleven storey block of flats in Burgess Hill town centre. These proposals, involving a block taller than nearby St John's Church spire, show scant regard for what Burgess Hill residents need and want. The eleven storey block is disproportionate to its surroundings and would set a precedent for other developments such as The Brow.

The Labour Party is dismayed that the Martlets was given away for nothing, against strong local opposition. The District Council Conservatives continue to make major financial concessions to New River Retail, claiming the company will walk away from the deal. Trying to make a future planning decision under such a threat could compromise what’s best for Burgess Hill. It is also disappointing that the LibDems having well beaten the Conservatives in the 2019 Town Council elections, largely on the Martlets issue, have not made absolutely clear their position, whether to support or oppose the 11 storey development.

The Labour Party favours town centre redevelopment, and recognises some people just want it done. But it is vital any deal balances the financial drivers of the developer with the needs and wishes of Burgess Hill people. The Labour Party questions whether the Martlets site will become a more financially attractive site, with forecast population growth and the District Council’s claim the town will benefit from £1bn investment over the next few years. We intend seeking local views on the eleven storey proposal over coming weeks, through street stalls, leaflets and our website. That way we can represent these views to Town Councillors, District Councillors and our MP.

And we haven’t seen enough evidence of the financial relationship between the District Council and New River Retail. So we will seek an independent report from the District Council's auditors on this financial relationship, the value for money of this scheme, its financial viability and prospects of an alternative developer.

David Andrews, Chair Burgess Hill Branch Labour Party

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