Lack of employment land could make Midhurst a ‘geriatric theme park’

ks170146-8 Mid Development  phot kate'Gordon McAra in the area near the old brickworks.ks170146-8 SUS-170314-210829008
ks170146-8 Mid Development phot kate'Gordon McAra in the area near the old brickworks.ks170146-8 SUS-170314-210829008

A government planning inspector has been criticised for failing to back a call from community leaders for more job opportunities in Midhurst.

They are concerned that there is no employment use specifically earmarked in the emerging South Downs National Park Local Plan for the former brickworks, the largest development site left in the town.

Vice chairman of the town council Gordon McAra led an initiative to create a masterplan for redevelopment of the site which would not only see many new homes provided, but also employment use to create desperately needed jobs.

He told members of his town council planning committee on Monday evening unless more employment land was allocated in the national park it was in danger of becoming a ‘geriatric theme park’.

The West Sussex County Council depot and the former brickworks owned by the Cowdray Estate are earmarked for 65 to 90 new homes and ‘other complementary uses’ in the national park’s first ever and long-awaited emerging Local Plan, which is expected to be published this Spring.

A plea from Mr McAra directly to the park’s planning committee last year fell on deaf ears.

He told them: “The lack of the word ‘employment’ was a concern. “We are getting more and more retirees. We need employment and jobs for younger people.”

Town councillors made a second plea to the government inspector who recently examined the Local Plan but he has failed to back them.

Mr McAra said they were ‘disappointed’ as there was a demand for small commercial units.

He said the inspector had made no comments on urban job provision in the park, despite more than 40,000 people living in urban areas.

He had not commented on the park’s admission that there was a ‘relatively low’ level of employment land provision in its plan.