A HEYSHOTT villager is calling on the Cowdray Estate to come up with a new route for the massive horse boxes travelling to the Ambersham polo ground before there is a ‘very unpleasant accident’.
John Masterton, who has lived at Heyshott for more than ten years, said the problem had got much worse in recent years with even larger vehicles using the tiny country lanes more frequently.
“It’s high time something was done to stop them. It’s only a matter of time before there is a very unpleasant accident.”
Mr Masterton said most of the vehicles came from the Midhurst and Petworth direction and the obvious answer was to create an access route across the Cowdray estate lane off the A272.
“It would make much more sense if they went through one of the gates to Cowdray House or the farm and then cut across the fields to Ambersham, then the vehicles would only have to cross the road there.”
“It’s absolutely dreadful. When these whopping great things come along the lanes, anything coming the other way has to veer into the hedge to avoid it and it’s so unnecessary.”
Mr Masterton added: “It’s so unreasonable because the Cowdray Estate has so much land in the area and it is wrecking the quiet enjoyment of local people.”
He said it was frustrating ‘when you have to get somewhere and you suddenly find a thing the size of a block of flats crawling along in front of you’.
“The lanes themselves are very narrow and broken up at the edges because the council won’t mend them and these vehicles just crush what is left of them, making the situation worse.
“It is a nightmare in winter when the rain comes and the road turns to a river because there is no edge to it.”
Plans to build a new route to Ambersham have been investigated, said Paddy Bangham, operations manager for Cowdray Park Polo Club.
“Building a track across open fields from the A272 has been discussed, but would present considerable challenges crossing the River Rother and its water meadows which flood very rapidly. It is also very unlikely Sussex Highways would permit permanent access for slow-moving lorries turning into and out of the A272 trunk road,” he said.
“About two years ago, a new route was agreed with the villagers of Selham to avoid two-way lorry traffic through the village on to the Ambersham polo grounds.
“And a new route along the wider lanes south of Midhurst was adopted, bringing horse boxes in off the A286 and out via the A272. This seems to have worked to their satisfaction.”
He added: “We agree the length of the lorries is greater.
“However, they are no wider and the rules governing drivers are more stringent today than they have ever been. Moreover, the larger horse boxes are on the roads for less than four weeks out of the five-month polo season – during the Gold Cup – when the club is the focus of the very best in polo worldwide.
“The season starts at the very end of April through to the third week of September, when all the ponies are then turned out for the winter and there is no more polo traffic.
“It is simply during the Gold Cup the larger lorries are in evidence. Afterwards Cowdray Park returns to its domestic tournaments which are at low or medium-goal level.”