New homes sites could save Coldwaltham wildflower meadow from developers

Campaigners   calling for a proposed housing site on their wildflower meadow to be dropped are pictured protesting earlier this year. Photo by Graham Franks
Campaigners calling for a proposed housing site on their wildflower meadow to be dropped are pictured protesting earlier this year. Photo by Graham Franks

Coldwaltham parish councillors are holding a public meeting on Thursday, (October 19) to debate new sites put forward by landowners to replace the controversial proposal for homes on the village wildflower meadow in the emerging South Downs National Park (SDNP) Local Plan.

It follows the surprise news that another landowner has offered land for development. It was the second offer proposal to provide affordable housing without destroying the valuable flower-rich hay meadow at the south western end of the village.

The flower meadow is owned by the Barlavington Estate and was earmarked in the park’s Local Pla for 35-40 houses.

Concerned villagers formed the Coldwaltham Meadow Conservation Group (CMCG), which has vigorously campaigned against the proposed housing.

Now the SDNP has halved the size of the proposed site from 4ha to 2ha and reduced the houses to 25-30, but CMCG claims this would still destroy most of the meadow.

Campaigners have discovered through a freedom of information request that Natural England has raised concerns about the allocation on the site: “This clearly puts the SDNPA on the spot,” said CMCG spokesman Chris Skinner.

He added: “Our main aim is to protect the local flower-rich hay meadow. As a result of our campaign, three more housing locations have been put forward. We do not advocate any particular site or number of houses, but it demonstrates there is no need to build on the flower-rich hay meadow.

In total four sites have now been identified in Coldwaltham.

Chris said it had been suggested three or four smaller sites might be preferable to one large one: “There is however, a risk multiple sites could result in attempts by the SDNP to allocate an excessive number of houses in the longer term or reduce the number of affordable homes.”

The group want to work with the parish council to get an appropriate number of affordable houses on the most acceptable sites and protect the rest of the village from ‘any further inappropriate development’.

The public meeting takes place in Sandham Hall at 7pm.

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