IT HAS been causing controversy for well over a decade and now residents living on Petworth’s most densely-populated estate are up in arms again as yet more houses are proposed.
They say parking is already impossible on the estate, where gradually more and more houses have been added over the years with scant regard for any overall plan for traffic and parking.
They are also worried about added pressure on the drainage system where heavy rain already causes surface-water flooding.
The plans for 33 more homes on part of the former Petworth Primary School have been drawn up on behalf of West Sussex County Council.
They are the latest proposals for the Dawtrey and Wyndham Road and Littlecote housing estate where more than 200 homes have sprung up in the past 55 years on what was just acres of allotments land and orchards belonging to the Leconfield Estate.
The only way in is the Dawtrey Road access from Station Road which serves not only all the homes, but the primary school, the former Herbert Shiner school, now a community and music centre, and the Rotherlea care home.
Objectors say the new plan will only exacerbate what is already a parking nightmare.
The town’s county councillor, Janet Duncton, has reiterated her concerns, saying the plans are a ‘missed opportunity’ to do something about the worsening traffic situation.
She wanted to see an opening made and more car parking provided on the south side of the site, adding that failure to address the situation now would only build up more problems for the future.
As long ago as 2000, Cllr Duncton warned access, traffic volume and congestion were causing a problem.
Debating plans for more homes on land east of Littlecote in January 2000, she said the situation could only be solved if a new road was put in from Station Road, south of what was then the Herbert Shiner Intermediate School.
SO HOW did the attractive open land become the giant sprawling mass of houses?
Less than 60 years ago the development site between Grove Street and Station Road was almost entirely taken up by allotments and orchards.
Indeed the original Lady Sudeley apples were raised there.
They were originally called ‘Jacob’s Strawberry’ after a Petworth cottager in the 19th century.
But the striped and sweet apples were later named by Lord Sudeley because they reminded him of a court dress worn by his wife.
Long-standing Petworth resident Peter Jerrome spent much time there as a boy in the late 1940s where his grandfather had an allotment.
“I remember it was like going to the garden of Eden.”
He recalled that when standing on the allotments, there was a clear view across the town to the parish church spire.
And Jumbo Taylor, now 87, who lived in the Littlecote Lodge, also remembered the long strip of allotments behind his home.
When he was a young boy, the only buildings on the land were Littlecote, the home of the Leconfield agent built in the late 1800s. It was later bought by Sylia Beaufoy who let the house to Dr Griffiths.
There were two lodges – Mr Taylor lived in both in his early life – in front of the house, which remain part of the Leconfield Estate.
Backing on to Grove Lane was Fairfield: “It had its name because it was used for fairs,
but it was rarely used in later years, except that we played football there as boys,” said
And further south there was South Grove, a small development of homes which still backs on to farmland.
Read more in the Midhurst and Petworth Observer Thursday, January 30 about how the land was later developed for more than 200 houses.