VOTE: Proposal for more open days at beam pump is facing some objections

A planning application for more open days at a Petworth heritage site has run into objections.

The trust which operates the historic Coultershaw beam pump, south of the town, wants to increase the number of days it can be open in a year from the current 24 to 36.

Trust chairman Robin Wilson has told Chichester District Council the reason for the application is so more schools visits can be accommodated during the open season from April to September.

But objectors have complained the move will have a negative impact on nearby properties.

One claims that, while it could be coincidental, since the current level of public access has been allowed, there have been four burglaries in the area – two at the beam pump site itself.

Another objector says that, since the site is closed for a large part of the year, the open days will be squeezed into a limited period meaning it could be open to visitors two or three days a week.

Safeguards for other residents in the area should be provided, the objector states on the district council's planning website.

Mr Wilson, the trust chairman, has told the council, in a letter published on its website, the limit of 26 days opening was set as far

back as 1977, as a condition of planning consent to erect a farm building over the pump.

Now having an education room at the site, the trust wants to promote school visits. Mr Wilson said: "A school visit is unlikely to be more than 20 children, who are controlled by teachers.

"We expect the visits to be of short duration (one to two hours) and to take place on a week day when perhaps local residents are about their business."

The trust would accept the present limit of 26 days' opening to the general public, the chairman added. The beam pump, located on the River Rother one-and-a-half miles south of Petworth, was installed in 1782 at the instigation of the 3rd Earl Egremont, to supplement the water supply to Petworth House and the town.

The pump, now a scheduled ancient monument, is driven by an 11ft diameter waterwheel.

Between 1976 and 1980 it was restored by members of Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society.

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