There is anger and frustration among Easebourne villagers, who believe the Cowdray Estate is ‘jumping the gun’ over plans for 60 new homes on three sites.
The public gallery was full on Monday evening (July 10) when parish councillors discussed the estate’s public consultation last week over proposals to build 20 new houses on each of three sites – former primary school, the estate yard in Easebourne Lane and on land at Egmont Road.
The meeting heard the South Downs National Park was in ‘planning limbo’ as its long-awaited Local Plan would not be finalised until next year, setting in stone planning polices for the park. In the meantime the 1999 Chichester Local Plan, which was ‘crazily out of date’, was the most up-to-date guidance for developers.
Chairman of the council Holly Grantham said: “We have had a meeting with the South Downs National Park planners and they are disappointed with the ‘pre application’ from the Cowdray Estate.
“They had asked the estate’s planning consultants not to submit it before the Local Plan was finalised. We got a sense of frustration from the national park.”
Resident Stephen Lloyd said: “It will be a race for the estate to get its application in before the draft Local Plan is adopted and getting the plans through on the old constraints as opposed to the new plan which will be completed next year.
He added: “In the 25 years I have been living here, I haven’t noticed the Cowdray Estate wanting to develop nice plans for the village.
“This is a question of what are they coming forward with and how are we going to respond.”
Holly said councillors were also disappointed the estate wanted to treat all three sites as one plan and would be asking the national park to treat them separately.
There was also dismay, she said, over the lack of consultation: “We have tried to engage openly with the Cowdray Estate and haven’t got very far which isn’t helpful.”
FORMER PRIMARY SCHOOL ‘COULD BE NEW HOME FOR CONIFERS’
Parish councillors are objecting to the Cowdray Estate’s plans to build on the former primary school, saying it should be retained for a possible new home for nearby Conifers School.
They are also against the development of the greenfield site, which is also outside the settlement boundary of the village.
Governor of Conifers, Malcolm Ring told the parish council’s planning meeting: “There have always been plans for houses on the Egmont Road site but the Cowdray Estate’s plan is now for access straight through our car park – and I will just mention health and safety.
“To me it seems more sensible for the old primary school to be reoccupied and the current Conifers House to be knocked down for new development.”
He said, from a planning and safety aspect, one of the significant problems of Conifers’ current home in Egmont Road was that children had to cross the busy A272 several times a day to reach their playing fields.
“Conifers would like to move to the bigger site as we are very crammed in at the moment.”
Jim Green said he believed it would be better to have one large housing site on the estate yard and the present Conifers playing fields next door to alleviate parking issues and the dangers to children crossing the A272.
‘PARKING IS ALREADY A NIGHTMARE’
Easebourne villagers said they had serious concerns about the Cowdray Estate plans.
Mo Knight, who lives in Easebourne Street, said she was worried about new homes on the former primary school: “At the moment there are no footpaths, lighting is extremely bad and the traffic travels at a dangerous speed.”
She added: “My fear is someone will die before something is done. If any of us needed a fire engine or an ambulance when events like the Gold Cup are taking place we wouldn’t get them because they wouldn’t be able to get through.”
She said parking was already a nightmare, particularly during pub opening hours. Residents were also concerned about more housing in Egmont Road, fearing it would exacerbate the parking problem there.
One resident said: “Sixty new houses will create an infrastructure problem – we have one doctors’ surgery, which is totally inadequate, and parking is already a huge problem.”
Residents said the estate works yard site was the ‘least objectionable’, although there were concerns about access from the A272.
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