Call for development at former Midhurst Brickworks to be withdrawn

Developers behind plans to build 75 homes on the old Midhurst Brickworks and county council depot site have been asked to withdraw their application.

Tuesday, 26th January 2021, 4:42 pm

Back in November Metis Homes submitted proposals to the South Downs National Park Authority for the land off Bepton Road.

While Midhurst Town Council’s planning committee was minded to ‘support this important development’ it raised concerns about the entrance to the development being ‘inadequate’, requested a comprehensive management plan, suggested extra homes be provided instead of keeping the former train shed for parking and raised issues with the design of ‘industrial-style houses’ on the northern part of the site.

Meanwhile the Midhurst Society has suggested the density of the development, given its location within or on the edge of the common, ‘appears excessive’.

Former Midhurst brickworks

The group has also raised concerns about congestion in the town in general as well as the potential at the development’s entrance, especially at times when the rubbish tip is busy.

Bepton Parish Council has supported the plans in principle, but has a number of concerns it says ‘require resolution’ before the application is approved.

These include road safety, congestion, infrastructure investment in Midhurst, adequate water supply to Bepton and guarantees that the rubbish tip will be retained.

In a 13-page letter, national park planning officers have written to Metis Homes requesting its application is withdrawn.

While the principle of residential development is supported due to its allocation in the South Downs Local Plan, they have found a number of significant issues and concerns ‘leading officers to conclude that the application cannot be supported’.

They said: “It is recommended that the application be withdrawn so the issues summarised below (and set out in further detail within the attached appendix) can be discussed and addressed before a revised planning application is submitted.”

Officers supported the creation of a development which had two distinct character areas, but had concerns about the layout, form and height of the housing on the northern part. They felt the current proposal would cause ‘unacceptable harm to the landscape character’.

They also believe more than the proposed 24 per cent affordable housing can be provided, which is far short of the 50 per cent required by policy.

The development had also failed to demonstrate it can adapt well to and mitigate against the impacts of climate change, with incomplete or inconsistent information on solar panels and electric vehicle charging points.

More information was also needed on proposed cycle provision.

Officers added: “Furthermore, there is no clear and integrated landscape, wildlife and ecological mitigation and enhancement plan. It is considered that the current submission is a lost opportunity to create a development that supports and enhances the ecological character of the area and which in turn helps creates a sense of place and promotes opportunities for understanding and enjoying the national park.”