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Haywards Heath is a town in the Mid Sussexmarker District of West Sussexmarker, Englandmarker. It lies south of Londonmarker, north of Brightonmarker, south of Gatwick Airport and east northeast of the county town of Chichestermarker. Nearby towns include Burgess Hillmarker to the southwest, Horshammarker to the northwest, Crawleymarker north northwest and East Grinsteadmarker north northeast. Being a commuter town, many of the residents commute daily via rail to London, Crawley or Gatwick for work.

Town History

Haywards Heath gets a mention in British Civil War records. Early in December 1642 the High Sheriff of Sussex (Sir Edward Ford) advanced with Royalist troops towards Lewes in East Sussex from Chichester in West Sussex. He was intercepted in Haywards Heath by local Parliamentarians and defeated. Thus staving off another bloody battle for Lewes battle history. The name Hayward comes from Old English meaning hedge enclosure. There is a local legend that the name comes from a highwayman who went under the name of Jack. This legend is almost definitely apocryphal.Haywards Heath as a settlement is a relatively modern development. Following the arrival of the London & Brighton Railway in 1841, its size has increased considerably. Haywards Heath station opened on July 12, 1841 and served as the southern terminus of the line until the completion of Brighton station on September 21. The position of Haywards Heath, and its place on both this railway and near the main roadmarker (A23) between London and Brighton, enables it to function as a commuter town, with many residents working in London, Brighton, Crawley and Gatwick Airport.

South Road in Haywards Heath

Other noted historical events in the town's history include:
  • The opening of the Sussex County Lunatic Asylum (later called St Francis Hospital) in 1859
  • The opening of Bannister's cattle market, the 12th largest in UK at one point, in 1859. This was closed to make way for a Sainsbury'smarker supermarket in 1989.
  • The opening of Victorian & Edwardian villas built as early Commuter settlements in 1894
  • The opening of the Eliot Cottage Hospital, later King Edward VII Eliot Memorial Hospital, in 1906, named after benefactor, Alice Annie Eliot (1864-1904)
  • Schemes in the 1920s to help families on low incomes to become self-sufficient, resulting in the building of Franklands Village in the 1930s.

In the 1960s and 1970s, two light industrial estates were built. Office development has lately resulted in the town being a regional or national centre for a number of national companies and government agencies.

The population has risen from 200 in the early 1850s to 22,800 (2001 census), making it one of the larger towns in West Sussex. The area of the civil parish is .

The parish church, dedicated to St Wilfridmarker, and the Roman Catholic church of St Paul are among the churches and chapels in Haywards Heath. Other places of worship include the Methodist church in Perrymount Road and two Baptist churches, St Richards (C of E), the Church of the Presentation(C of E) and the Ascension Church (C of E).

Haywards Heath was in East Sussexmarker, but a change to the county boundary in 1974 brought it under the jurisdiction of West Sussexmarker.

Bolnore Village

In the late 1990s, planning permission was granted for 780 new homes on a greenfield site now known as Bolnore Village, located to the south west of the existing town. Construction of phases 1, 2 and 3, led by the house builders Crest Nicholson in conjunction with several other companies, has now been largely completed. However, work on phases 4 and 5 has not yet commenced.

The decision to grant planning permission for Bolnore Village was somewhat controversial, since the Ashenground and Catts Woods on that site formed a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI).

As a condition for planning permission, the developers are required to build a relief road for the town, often referred to as Haywards Heath bypass, which will re-route the A272 south of the town centre. Although the first section of the relief road has already been built, it remains incomplete as there are issues with land ownership and the road has to cross a railway line which involves protracted negotiations with Network Rail.

In 2008, local residents won a bid to set up and run their own primary school for the village. The school is will open in September 2009 in accommodation at St Wilfrid's CE Primary School, and move to the new school buildings in Bolnore in September 2010.


The Mid Sussexmarker District Council are planning to further modernise the town centre, and has recently published its Haywards Heath Masterplan which includes renovation plans for the railway station ticket office and new shared parking facilities. The next steps for the redevelopment are currently unclear following a local referendum in which residents voted 95% for the Station Quarter redevelopment to be put on hold until full information regarding the development is in the public domain.

A further 685 homes are due to be built in the final phases of Bolnore Village (phases 4 and 5), and new homes are also expected to be build in the town centre as part of the Hayward Heath Master Plan.

If completed, the Haywards Heath bypass will eventually divert the A272 traffic south of the town through Bolnore Village, which the district council hopes will improve the current traffic situation through the town centre. This road is currently a cul-de-sac/dead end into Bolnore as the council have not secured an agreement to complete this important road link. Crest Nicholson won their planning appeal against MSDC/WSCC, securing planning consent to complete (stage 4) more homes. CN confirm that they are unlikely to build more than the 300 homes which would trigger mandatory completion of the relief road, and moreover that resources to complete this essential transport link were not available.

At a special meeting of Mid Sussex District Council held on 26 November 2008, the cabinet of the Council agreed that the concept proposals should continue to the next stage, of negotiating a development agreement. This decision was subsequently "called" in by members and reviewed at a special meeting of MSDC full Council on 23 December 2008. The results of this meeting have not yet been published, moreover decisions taken on 26 November 2008 must be formally approved as agreed minutes before they become council policy.

Haywards Heath Referendum Group

In response to the Haywards Heath Masterplans, a group of residents have formed The Haywards Heath Referendum Group, a strictly non-party political association with members drawn from the local community.

A local referendum, which is very rare in the UK, was called and although 94% of voters supported the motion, turnout was only 21% of the electorate due to restricted voting hours, limited to 5 hours versus the more normal 14 hours allowed for local elections. The motion was subsequently adopted during a Special Meeting of the Town Council on 21 July 2008 when members agreed to the motion: "To adopt the local referendum result which asked MSDC to put development plans on hold.".

The deputy Mayor confirms "that the motion was taken as a 'recorded' vote which was carried 9-3 with one abstention, however members have yet to agree the minutes." This has led to extensive debate and the resident mandate from this meeting being delayed.

It is alleged that control and leadership issues continue to undermine credibility with widespread debate following a BBC TV News item on Saturday 13 September 2008. The Mayor has advised that members will again try to agree minutes from the 21 July at its next meeting on 27 October 2008.

The council agreed adoption of the referendum result as Council Policy (from its meeting on the 21st July 2008) at a Town Council meeting on October 27 by a majority vote.



Haywards Heath experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the United Kingdom.

Transport links

Haywards Heath Railway Station


Haywards Heath railway stationmarker is a major station on the Brighton Main Line. Some of the train services divide at Haywards Heath before continuing their journey to the south, or join other services before continuing north.


Haywards Heath is primarily served by the A272 road, which runs through the centre of the town. Following the A272 to the West, it joins the A23 roadmarker which runs both to Brightonmarker to the south and Londonmarker to the north.

Local attractions, culture, and facilities

The library in Haywards Heath
  • Bars and restaurants in Broadway
  • Victoria Park
  • Clair Hall - community centre and event centre
  • Olympos Haywards Heath Leisure Centre
  • Borde Hill Gardens
  • Beech Hurst Gardens
  • Haywards Heath Recreation Ground
  • Haywards Heath Library
  • Princess Royal Hospitalmarker

  • "Town Day" - celebrated in early September each year including fireworks in the evening at Victoria Park

  • Walking - one of the best known walks close to the town starts just north of the railway station and runs to Ardingly Reservoir, approximately 2.5 miles (4 km) north of the town.


State Schools

  • Central Sussex Collegemarker
  • Oathall Community Collegemarker
  • Lindfield Primary School
  • The Acorns Nursery School
  • Bolnore Primary - to open a Reception class in 2009 in premises at St Wilfrid's and thereafter in the new school when completed.
  • Heyworth Primary School
  • Harlands Primary Schoolmarker
  • St Wilfrid's CEP School
  • Court Meadow School
  • Blackthorns C.P School
  • St Joseph's Catholic Primary School
  • Northlands Wood Community Primary School

Private Schools

Twin town

Haywards Heath is twinned with:

 Bonduesmarker, Nord-Pas-de-Calaismarker, Francemarker

 Traunsteinmarker, Bavariamarker, Germanymarker

A major road in the Bolnore Village area of the town has been named Traunstein Way.

Famous residents

Noted celebrities with connections to the Haywards Heath area include:

In fiction, Haywards Heath is the home of the Jennings family.

See also

  • Haywards Heath Living Memories, Author: Wilfrid Jackson, ISBN 1-85937-913-3. Published by Frith Book Company Ltd.


  3. The Haywards Heath Referendum Group
  4. Minutes of the Haywards Heath Town Council, 21 July 2008
  5. Correspondence of the Haywards Heath Town Council, date unknown
  6. Tommy Cook profile

External links

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