‘Wild west’ Rogate woodland plans rejected

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Controversial plans for a woodland craft training centre at Rogate, which were described as ‘like something out of the Wild West’, have been thrown out for the second time by the South Downs National Park’s planning committee.

Paddy Cox wanted permission to continue using woodland next to his Laundry Cottage home, in Dangstein Road, for forestry and woodland management and also for recreation, education for life-long learning and tourism. Included was a proposal for four camping pitches and four overnight shelters, a community shelter, composting toilet and washroom.

He also wanted to replace the visitor parking area and create a new footpath between the proposed parking area and the facilities.

The plan was turned down last February after neighbours complained activities there were already causing a disturbance and planning committee members were told some of them were the subject of enforcement investigations.

At their latest meeting they were recommended by their officers to grant temporary planning permission for three years, subject to a raft of conditions.

But Alan Alesbury said he was concerned about the plan and members were on ‘the wrong course’.

“I believe the tranquillity of that part of the park is one of its special qualities and it seems to me we are not giving enough weight to our duties aimed at conserving the natural beauty and natural heritage of the area.”

He said his impression of the site was ‘a bit like something out of the Wild West – an uncontrolled and rather surprising thing that has come about in this otherwise tranquil part of the park.’

Fellow member David Caldwell said he supported the plan: “On balance I think there is a genuine intention here to do something constructive.”

Mr Alesbury’s proposal to refuse the plan was carried by members.