Planners get tough in South Downs park zone area

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A decision by the South Downs National Park Authority is set to draw more Midhurst homes into a tougher regime governing what changes their owners can make to them.

The authority’s planning committee has voted to approve extensions to the town’s conservation area. Inclusion in the area can have an impact when owners want to make alterations, including additions and extensions, which could affect the character and architecture of the properties.

A main feature of the extended conservation zone is the inclusion of what is described as the ‘late Victorian and Edwardian suburb’ between the A272 Petersfield Road and the A286 Bepton Road, including Ashfield Road, Cobden Road and the east side of Carron Lane.

Members of the park’s planning committee agreed this could require a formal planning procedure – known as an Article 4 Direction – to cover specified houses, ensuring their character could not be diminished.

A report to the committee referred to the need to prevent ‘continuing dilution of architectural detail’.

The officers’ report said while the houses in this part of Midhurst were not especially uncommon in character, a high proportion in Carron Lane and Ashfield Road were ‘reasonably original’ and well-preserved examples of their type.

“In this regard, they are becoming increasingly unusual,” the report said. “The cumulative impact of further alterations could mean the currently positive character value this area contributes to the southern end of the town has the potential to steadily diminish.”

The approved extension also includes the entire length of the River Rother as it flows through the town.

The park committee was told proposed extensions to the conservation area should not be seen as a measure that would necessarily block future development proposals: “They would, however, offer greater control over aspects of development that may affect the special interest, character, and appearance of the locations in question.”

The full list of approved extensions to the conservation area is: the northern section of Lamberts Lane, the south side of June Lane as far as the property called ‘Sundew’, the former site of St Margaret’s Convent, most of the south side of Petersfield Road as far as Guillards Oak, part of the east side of Carron Lane, Ashfield Road, Cobden Road, Chichester Road as far as the property ‘Taylors’, and sections of the River Rother including The Wharf.