Landscape is in danger of ‘overshadowing needs of people in South Downs National Park’

Gordon McAra
Gordon McAra

CONCERN has been voiced that the South Downs National Park Authority (NPA) could put landscape before the needs of the people who live in the park.

The fears have been expressed following the publication of the national park’s first consultation document for its emerging local plan.

“The worry is the park will try to make Midhurst and Petworth something they are not and in effect slowly strangle them through onerous environmental and landscape consideration,” said Midhurst’s district councillor Gordon McAra.

The consultation document is the first part of the NPA’s local plan process and gives people the chance to comment on a range of options, including housing, tourism and commercial development.

Cllr McAra told fellow district councillors it was important to recognise the need 
for housing in the urban areas of the national park.

He asked them to ‘encourage the NPA to take a fair share of the housing burden’ when they responded to the consultation.

“I’m disappointed there are no indicative numbers for houses they expect to be built in the national park over the next 15 years,” he said.

“This is likely to create problems for our own local plan as the rest of Chichester district may have to make up the shortfall from our area of the park.

“The plan makes mention of certain housing requirements – affordable housing, the rural population, foresters, gypsies and the elderly.

“It does not really talk about the 40-50,000 people who live in an urban environment who have different needs – nothing has been said of housing for young families, rented accommodation, executive-style housing.

“The NPA must recognise the aspirations and needs of a large chunk of the population that is not rurally based.”

CDC leader Heather Caird said an NPA representative would be invited to talk to CDC: “This is an important piece of work, as it affects so many of our residents and requires time and careful consideration.”