Dismay as national park plan for Midhurst fails to address employment

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News

Disappointment has yet again been voiced by Midhurst town councillors over the failure of the South Downs National Park to address employment concerns in the town.

Despite repeated pleas to include employment uses in redevelopment of the brickworks, park planning officers have refused to specify them in their emerging Local Plan.

Instead they have only earmarked ‘complementary’ uses for the area.

At a meeting of the town council’s planning committee on Monday, May 14, members reviewed the plan, which has now been submitted to the government for inspection along with comments received during public consultation.

They said they were still at odds with the national park’s ‘general lack of details and commitment to employment policies in the urban areas of the park in general and to the brickworks site in particular’.

Planning chairman Gordon McAra said: “The park provided a precis of all the comments made in the Midhurst Town Council submission but it did not mention a word about employment, although about 60 per cent of our comments were about employment. This is disappointing, particularly as we have continued to raise the issue with them at every opportunity.”

The Rev David Coote said infrastructure also got little coverage in the plan. “Given around 46,000 people in the park live in urban areas, where schools, doctors, shops and services is important, this is a missed goal.”

Mark Whittaker said: ”We certainly support the national park but they must remember that, unlike other parks, they have a substantial population and must engage with these communities.”

But the committee commended the park’s ‘positive approach to providing affordable housing and for finally submitting the long and complex plan’.

Members supported the innovative ‘Dark Skies’ policy.