Three Midhurst housing sites have been included in a new blueprint for the South Downs National Park.
A two-month consultation begins today (Wednesday September 2) on the South Downs National Park Authority’s preferred options for its local plan, which also includes small sites in South Harting and Easebourne.
The former Syngenta site near Fernhurst is also one of the three strategic sites listed.
Trevor Beattie, chief executive officer for the SDNPA, said: “Our landscapes are the reason the South Downs became a national park so they must sit at the heart of every planning decision we make.
“Our landscapes have always depended on development – 112,000 people live in the national park and people need homes and places to work.
“Putting the landscapes first means making sure we get the right growth in the right places and we believe this means we can enable around 1840 new affordable homes in the national park by 2032.
“This is a significant proportion of the total 4,596 homes we’re allowing for over the next 17 years – which includes planning permissions granted but not yet implemented and anticipated windfall sites.
“We’ve set out the policies to make this happen and now we want to hear what other people – the organisations, communities and individuals who care about the future of the National Park – think.”
A drop in session on the plan will be held at the South Downs Centre in Midhurst from 10am-3pm on Saturday September 12.
Residential garages at New Road are earmarked for five homes, two large residential plots off Petersfield Road to the east of Elmleigh could accommodate 40 homes, while the third site is for 15 homes west of Lamberts Lane on the netball and tennis courts site.
The draft plan acknowledges that Midhurst has ‘many important historical buildings’, and has ‘excellent access to large areas of open and unspoilt countryside’.
It continues: “As a neighbourhood development plan is not being prepared for Midhurst, this local plan defines the town centre boundary and primary shopping area for the town.
“A masterplanning exercise is being carried out by the SDNPA in collaboration with the town council to ensure that the town and its town centre are being comprehensively planned for.”
Meanwhile the Easebourne allocation is a strip of land east of Cowdray Road for 14 homes, while the South Harting site is for eight homes east of New Lane.
The Syngenta site is described as being a ‘relatively well screened location providing an opportunity for an exemplar sustainable development of a strategic scale’.
It is allocated in the Chichester Local Plan for employment use, but the SDNPA plan suggests it could be used to create a ‘gateway site for tourism accommodation’ in the form of self-catering units or a hotel, open space, and some residential development to meet affordable housing need within the national park.
Other ideas such as an extra care or sheltered housing scheme, allotments, and a community building, are also put forward.
The draft plan suggests that around 200 homes, 50 per cent of which would be affordable, would be an acceptable benchmark for residential development on the site.
Across the whole national park the plan sets out to deliver around 4,600 homes up to 2032, which includes a number of sites that are coming forward through neighbourhood plans in several parishes.
For instance around 150 homes are set to be built in Petworth.
The document also has policies to address issues such as reducing the impact of development on nature and wildlife, encouraging opportunities for recreation, safeguarding public views, setting a high ambition for affordable homes, and also looks at ways to encourage new community facilities, and prioritise movements by pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders in village and town centres.
Once the consultation closes on October 28 comments will be reviewed and it is hoped the finished local plan will be published next summer, and sent to the planning inspectorate in the autumn.
The authority hopes the finished plan will then formally be adopted midway through 2017.
To view the plan and comment visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/localplanconsultation
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.midhurstandpetworth.co.uk/
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MidhurstandPetworthObserver
3) Follow us on Twitter @mid_pet_obs
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Midhurst and Petworth Observer - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.