‘Wanton deforestation’ as developers hack down trees at Midhurst

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The ‘wholesale clearance’ of trees on a proposed development site close to Midhurst has been condemned as ‘wanton deforestation’.

Midhurst Town Council’s planning committee visited the site south of Barlavington Way after outline plans for up to 20 open market and 12 affordable houses were submitted to the South Down National Park Authority.

Judy Fowler said: “I was appalled by what I saw. It was wanton deforestation. All those mature trees which were cut up like carrots are not going to come back any time soon.”

Lesley Campbell added: “It was vandalism and if the law allows people to behave in that way, then the law needs to be changed.”

The Rev David Coote said the plan was ‘a development far too far’. But he said the bigger shock had been ‘devastation’ of the trees.

“We were shocked by what had happened on the site. We are told that given time the site could be regenerated, but when you are cutting down trees hundreds of years old, you are talking about a long time.”

Most of the site is in the parish of West Lavington and parish councillors there have already lodged strong objections.

Midhurst town councillors have also objected. Mr Coote said: “The site is just outside the town, but the implications for Midhurst are very real in terms of the resources that would be drawn on such as schools, education and health.”

Town councillors said they were also concerned about the principle of the development: “We regard this as an opportunistic application before the national park’s Local Plan is confirmed despite the very considerable evidence again it.”

They said adequate sites had already been identified in the park’s draft Local Plan, the proposal would have an adverse effect on the rural entrance to Midhurst and exacerbate the danger to traffic on an already fast and unsafe road with hundreds of new cars

“The town council is deeply dismayed that a developer has been able to affect a wholesale clearance of mature hard wood trees and shrubs in a national park, only a mile from the park’s offices and then claim that there is no wild life value on the site.”