South Downs National Park Authority hits back at critics in roof tile row

New tiles replace the old peg tiles on the Capron House roof
New tiles replace the old peg tiles on the Capron House roof

THE South Downs National Park has defended itself against critics claiming it was ‘a law unto itself.’

The Observer last week reported criticism when modern tiles, rather than original materials, were used to re-roof the SDNP headquarters at Capron House, Midhurst.

Trevor Beattie, chief executive of the authority has moved to clarify what he believes is a misunderstanding over the discharging of conditions on planning applications.

He said ‘discharging’ a condition was a technical term which simply meant that a condition had been met.

“This is a standard part of the planning process and last week alone seven planning applications for the Chichester area of the South Downs National Park were discharged.”

The third condition of the national park authority’s planning application for the South Downs Centre at Capron House required existing tiles should be re-used wherever possible and that additional ones should match.

“This is exactly what we have done.”

He added the 15 conditions attached to the planning application would all have to be “discharged - i.e. met.”

Leaping to the defence of the SDNPA which has been criticised for the appearance of the new tiles, Midhurst town councillor Gordon McAra who is also a Chichester district and county councillor said he believed the issue was a ‘storm in a tea cup’.

“Maybe the tiles are a little uniform in texture and colour but look behind this to get a fuller picture of what is involved for the benefit of Midhurst.

And Stephen Hugh-Jones of East Harting added: “I’m no SDNPA groupie. But the alleged ‘storm’ over the re-roofing of the park authority’s new headquarters in Midhurst strikes me as one in the tiniest possible teacup.”

Robbie Shields of Midhurst said: “I cannot believe that tiles more in fitting with the rest of the surrounding rooftops could not have been sourced.

“The ones selected look like modern machined tiles and not the sort that should be used on an historic building and it will be decades before they have weathered.”

Bernard Bayly who last week accused the national park of ‘rank hypocrisy added: “One of SDNP’s statutory responsibilities when it was set up was to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area.

It is singularly failing to implement this by allowing itself to impose this monstrosity on Midhurst.”

See letters page of Midhurst and Petworth Observer Thursday, August 22 for more comments