Campaigners fighting to save a much loved wildflower meadow in Coldwaltham claim the South Downs National Park is failing to get the balance right between providing much needed affordable homes and protecting the environment.
Defending the park’s emerging Local Plan in which the meadow is earmarked for 35 to 40 new homes, its chief executive, Trevor Beattie said in a BBC Radio Sussex interview, the park existed to protect and conserve the environment but also to ensure communities got the affordable homes they badly needed.
He added: “If we get it right we will be able to provide the badly needed affordable houses that the local people need and preserve more than half of this valuable wildlife meadow, it’s a question of balance.”
But Chris Skinner from the Coldwaltham Meadow Conservation Group has retorted: “We realise our village needs some affordable homes. But is it right they should be built on one of the national park’s rarest habitats, when there are other places in our village that could be used?”
He added: “how can they possibly think destroying half of it is a balanced decision? 97 per cent of the UK’s meadows have disappeared since the 1930s, so you would think the park should be keen to protect what’s left. After all, its ‘first purpose’ stated in its own Local Plan, is ‘to conserve and enhance natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage’.
Campaigner Jim Glover said the national park had promised to listen to people. “But we were there when our parish council’s letter of objection was received at its planning committee. The letter complained about the last minute changes without any consultation. Although acknowledged, it was dismissed without being read.” He said it the park had not looked at all the options. “We know a much better location was offered for housing and they refused to look at it.”
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