Franklands Village is a unique community that was founded through the ambitious and challenging initiative of the Haywards Heath Rotary Club in response to its motto, 

To help others”. 

In 1933 the Country was still deeply affected by the Depression, with over two million people unemployed. It was at this time that the International Rotary Club decided to open a branch in Haywards Heath. After undertaking their own research, Rotarians learnt that, in a local context, the worst unemployment was in the building industry, with over 85% of locally based tradesmen out of work! 

Coupled with this sad unemployment statistic, Haywards Heath had expanded through the electrification of the railway line. This expansion had, in turn, led to an increasing but unsatisfied demand for properties suitable for renting by young couples. Indeed, the only prospect for newly married couples was to rent a single room at 10 shillings a week and finding such a room in the Town was almost impossible. 

Therefore, the Rotarians took the bold step of resolving to do something about these two local problems of high unemployment in the building trade and a scarcity of homes for young, newly married couples. 

As soon as the Club had approved this project in principle, Rotarians set about finding a suitable site and located 45 acres on the eastern side of the Town. The site, which was situated close to The Birch Hotel, was described as “…covered with heavy scrub and large trees and somewhat hilly, but it did seem to offer a suitable site for building…” 

When the site had been found, another group within the Rotary Club undertook to obtain the capital and formed a small, non-profit making company so that “… the building of suitable houses for young people…” could 

begin. The company was formed as a Housing Society and registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 

The Village was designed by the well known local architect, Harold Turner and construction started in 1933 and continued until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. The first one bedroom flat (with bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom and garden) was let at 8 shillings a week, about 20% less than the rent being charged at that time for just a single room with very limited (if any) facilities! 

As the building project neared its conclusion, a Village Stores was built, together with the Village Hall (incorporating an Estate Office) and Social Club. In fact, the Hall became such a popular venue for locally based Canadian troops that, after the war, they paid for a new maple strip floor to be laid as their “dancing boots” had caused so much damage to the original! 

In the course of only 6 years, the fledgling Rotary Club had achieved its bold ambition of providing work for the unemployed and founding a Model Village that could, over a period of time, be built up into a self contained and unique community with its own Church, Community Centre, Club, Shop, Playing Field and Children’s Play Area 

The name of the Association was changed to Franklands Village Housing Association (FVHA) in January 1991. However, in outward appearances the Village has changed very little in the intervening 85 years since it was founded. In fact, in 1989 the special nature and character of the Village was recognized by Mid Sussex District Council when it designated Franklands Village a Conservation Area. 

Many of the Association’s tenants have lived in the Village almost all their lives and some since the Village was founded over 85 years ago! Sadly, the natural effects of the passing years has taken its toll and in recent years a higher than usual number of properties have been vacated. Even so, the FVHA only has about 25 to 30 properties available to let each year and there is a much greater demand to live in the Village than the Association can possibly satisfy. 

During the last 20 years Franklands Village Housing Association (FVHA) has been carrying out a major refurbishment programme to ensure that its properties conform to current standards and are in an excellent condition when they are re-let. 

The Association’s 281 units of housing stock are all located in Franklands Village and comprise: – 

87 semi-detached houses 1 terrace of 4 houses (2 x 2 bed 2 x 3 bed) 

84 Two bedroom Flats 74 One Bedroom Flats 

32 Studio Flats 64 lock up Garages 

All the properties are self contained and each has its own garden 

The Association is registered as an Exempt Charity under the Industrial & Provident Societies Act 1965 No. 14582R. The Association is a registered Social Landlord L1680 and a member the National Housing Federation and The Housing Ombudsman Service. FVHA is also a member of SHAPE. 

Its properties are let on assured tenancies, primarily to people from Mid Sussex. 

The FVHA’s aim remains faithful to the Rotary Club’s ideal of trying to help local people in housing need who are unable to solve their housing problem from their own resources. 

The Association maintains its own waiting lists and all decisions regarding the registration of applicants and the allocation of tenancies is made by the FVHA’s Lettings’ Sub Committee. 

Full information about the Association is contained on our website: