Park accused of '˜sneaky move' as Coldwaltham brief discussed
Campaigners fighting to save a Coldwaltham wildflower meadow have accused the South Downs National Park (SDNP) of being '˜sneaky' after they discovered, only six days ago, that a highly controversial draft development brief is to be discussed by the park's planning committee today (Thursday).
The brief sets out how the national park wants to earmark the hay meadow for up to 30 houses, two car parks and a shop.
Villagers have already objected through the South Downs Local Plan consultation last November and they were alarmed to see the park going ahead with the development brief before the planning inspector had examined their original comments.
Jim Glover, chairman of the Coldwaltham Meadow Conservation Group CMCG), said: “We are very disappointed but not altogether surprised by this sneaky move.
“They issued the first version of the brief just before the end of the Local Plan consultation last November in an attempt to rush it through while everyone was busy commenting on the Local Plan.
“There has been a huge reaction against the Local Plan in the village and we have submitted a very strong case objecting to this appalling wildlife destruction.
“It really beggars belief that, just at a time when there is global concern about the loss of bees and pollination sites, they are looking to destroy such an exceptional source of pollen, a rare 20 acre flower-rich hay meadow.
“Our national park authority, who claim their first purpose is to ‘conserve and enhance natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage’, are intent on destroying it as soon as they can.”
He said villagers were not opposed to more houses and had found other suitable sites which would be ‘much less damaging in terms of wildlife and landscape’.
Local resident Eric Prince said: “This appears to be a waste of tax-payers’ money.
“Why can’t they wait until the inspector has had a chance to look at the comments we have already made? Their own experts have suggested there is no evidence of local need for housing here, so why the rush? Why do we have to comment on a development brief for a proposal that might not and should not happen?”