BURGESS HILL was an intimate little place until a few decades ago. In 1951 its population was just 8,000. Since then it has been overwhelmed by new estates built to soak up London overspill. The population has shot up to 29,000 and is still climbing with big companies, including British Oxygen and American Express, having moved in. A relief road and link to the A23 unlocked pockets of building land for thousands more new houses, but a grass buffer to the west of town known as the Green Crescent provides a protective belt of sorts. A planned mixed-use regeneration of the town centre promises larger shops, pedestrian areas, an arts centre and a facelift for the railway station. There is a Waitrose in the town centre and a Tesco on the outskirts. Cultural treats can be had at the cinema and the Burgess Hill Theatre (venue for local dramatic and choral societies), and muscle tone can be developed at the Olympus leisure centre. Secondary schoolchildren go to Oakmeads Community College; the fee-paying alternative for girls is Burgess Hill School.
The town is downmarket of Haywards Heath and probably offers the lowest property prices to be found in this expensive mid-Sussex belt. Two-bedroom houses start at around £170,000; three-bedroom houses at £180,000; four-bedroom houses at £250,000. Silverdale Road, Keymer Road and Folders Lane are where you find the most expensive older houses, with company directors and airline pilots settling at around £450,000. A few very old farmhouses still survive on the former commons.