South Downs National Park Local Plan: '˜Alarm bells' in Midhurst as national park ups the number of homes on housing sites

As the South Downs National Park Authority struggles to find space for desperately needed houses and to meet government targets, fears are being voiced that new homes are being crammed onto sites.

Wednesday, 22nd March 2017, 3:04 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:56 am
The former Holmbush Caravan Park which has been earmarked for up to 70 new homes

There are concerns this comes at the expense of community needs and sacrifices green field space.

The new fears were expressed after the national park revealed the latest housing site allocations in its emerging Local Plan.

They included four new sites at Midhurst – 65 to 90 homes on the former brickworks and West Sussex County Council Highways depot, 45 to 70 homes on the Holmbush Caravan Park, up to ten at Brisbane House, 20 homes in Lamberts lane and another 12 in gardens at Park Crescent.

Gordon McAra is chairman of the town council’s planning committee. He is also on a three-strong special working party talking to the national park about its emerging Local Plan. He told members of his planning committee the numbers were different from what he, and fellow town councillors, the Rev David Coote and former town councillor Brendan Flynn had discussed with park planners: “We talked about the brickworks being for up to 60 houses with employment use as well, but what seems to have appeared is 65 to 90 houses which as far as I can see takes away any employment facilities, which is really not what we were aiming at.

“Essentially what is a large piece of semi derelict land seems to be earmarked by the national park for housing to meet its housing numbers.”

He said 202 houses had been allocated for Midhurst which was a third more than the original allocation of 150. “They are obviously struggling to find sites,” he said. “I do not have a problem with more housing, but alarm bells are ringing and we need to ensure a balance of housing and employment. Employment on the brickworks site is just as important as housing. We need to keep people working in the town so they don’t have to commute and support self employed people in small industrial units.

At Easebourne proposals have been revealed for up to 20 houses on the Cowdray Works Yard, 16-20 on paddock and car parking land at Egmont Road and a further 15 at the former primary school.

Parish councillors have raised concerns about the development of the greenfield site behind the former school. They told national park officers: “This would set a worrying precedent for a rural village and the parish council feels this allocation proposal should be rejected.”

Chairman Holly Grantham stressed the importance of providing the type of houses needed by villagers. “The parish council recognises housing is required and, of course, already has extensive new housing at King Edwards.

“Housing must not be seen in isolation and proper consideration needs to be given to the impact on local infrastructure and services.

“The parish council does not generally support the provision of housing on greenfield sites however feels there should be greater emphasis on providing housing the parish needs and the provision of affordable housing.”

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