PETWORTH could bear the brunt of much of the new housing required in the area over the next 15 years after a new document identifying potential development sites.
Seven sites have been identified in the South Downs National Park Authority’s strategic housing land availability assessment (SHLAA).
Together they give a potential for more than 140 new houses in Petworth over the next five years, but the national park stresses that the identification of sites does not mean planning permission would be given for housing development on all of them.
The sites throughout the Midhurst and Petworth area have been published for public consultation and the national park’s preferred options will not be revealed until the draft of the local plan is published later this year.
Among the major sites up for discussion in Petworth are two sites at the northern end of the town.
Agricultural land north of Northend Close has been identified for a possible 20 homes and a further 13 at Woodlea, Northmead.
At the southern end of the town, a site east or Littlecote next to Rotherlea is listed for a possible 25 homes and the square field next to this for a major 70-home estate.
Six sites have been identified in Midhurst which together provide sites for a possible 80 homes.
They include a large site at 84a Peterfsield Road, which currently has three homes and large gardens on it and, says the SHLAA, has potential for 40 new homes over the next ten years.
In addition, the former Midhurst Grammar School site which was home to the youth club and tennis courts has been identified with a potential for 15 homes.
The West Sussex County Council highways depot which is now up for sale is not included in the SHLAA.
But Midhurst town councillors are keen to add it as a major site providing commercial and housing development.
The list also includes sites in villages across the Midhurst and Petworth area including Easebourne, Fernhurst, Northchapel and Rogate.
At Fernhurst, 200 possible homes on the controversial Syngenta site are listed.
Chairman of Petworth Town Council Chris Kemp said the potential sites identified highlighted the need for a neighbourhood plan to be drawn up.
“We have always said we have to expect more development and the whole purpose of the neighbourhood plan is to make sure it takes place where we want it to.
“We have only just received the SHLAA and have not had time to digest it, but the neighbourhood plan team will be discussing it in the next week with a view to imminent public consultation.”
Gordon McAra, chairman of Midhurst Town Council’s planning committee, said: “The town council is investigating some form of master plan for the combined highways depot site and the old brickworks’ site in Bepton Road.
“Unfortunately because of the timing of the park’s document, it has rejected any potential for housing on the site, even though it has now been declared surplus to requirements and will be disposed of by the county.
“We hope this decision is not final and we can ask the park to re-examine the site.
“We are pleased our recommendation to exclude the possibility of building in June Meadows and Taylor’s Field have been accepted. It has also accepted our concerns about possible building at the southern end of the town around the Royal Oak and has rejected or excluded four sites in the location.”