South Harting housing sites could ‘destroy’ village’s rural character

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New homes at Harting Down could ‘destroy’ the rural feel of the village, a meeting heard today.

The hearing at the South Downs Centre, which is one of several held to examine the South Downs National Park’s draft Local Plan, heard representations from Harting Parish Council, Friends of Harting Down and Rupert Grey, a resident and QC over the housing allocations at Loppers Ash and north of the Forge.

Concerns centred around the impact of extra traffic and access on New Lane, the loss of views of the South Downs and the cumulative effect of filling green spaces in addition to the new homes at the Forge.

Mr Grey said the proposals would turn the village into a ‘small sub-urban entity’ and ‘destroy’ the rural character of New Lane in particular.

“You’re creating an urban sprawl, if you look down from the South Downs and you fill in all of these gaps, all the open spaces that characterise the village will be gone,” he said.

Officers from the SDNPA repeated that the allocations were ‘modest’ developments of six to eight homes at Loppers Ash and five to six homes on land north of the Forge.

They defended the loss of views and issues with access as a ‘tension’ in policy and said design issues were a matter for planning applications.

But Mr Grey accused the authority of ‘kicking into the long grass’ the most difficult parts of the discussion to the planning stage when the deal was ‘all done and dusted’.

The meeting also heard calls to protect New Lane as a narrow historic road with banks on either side unsuitable for additional traffic and a key route for walkers and equestrians to access the South Downs Way.

Parish councillor Sheridan Bowman said ‘punching in’ access points for homes along with visability splays would have ‘a dramatic impact’ and ‘weaken’ the character of the village.

The examiner said he was familiar with the Harting area but he would make a site visit before forming his conclusions.