I see that South Downs National Park appears to have sanctioned the development of a fair-sized new housing estate right inside the new national park and at a site already in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is excellent news as I have for some time been contemplating the construction of an ultra-modern, mainly glass and concrete house on a site with nice views – Harting Down or Treyford Hill come to mind , and with KEVII as a precedent I can see no reason why this should not be approved ‘on the nod’.
Seriously, this decision by our local national park flies in the face of common sense and is the worst possible start for a new body charged with protecting our rural environment. We are told that the developers cannot afford to refurbish and develop the KEVII buildings without building a large number of additional houses.
What nonsense! Up and down the country there are large old buildings, former hospitals, mills, warehouses, even castles, converted into homes as they stand without a large new housing estate surrounding them. Many are in urban locations where there simply isn’t room for such development.
So how does the situation at KEVII come about? The answer has to be that the developers paid too much for the site. And why should a developer pay too much for the site in the first place? The answer has to be that in the sale negotiations there was a ‘presumption for development’ (you will recognise the phrase) which covered the price paid.
However the South Downs National Park was not party to any of these previous negotiations, hence was not bound by them in any way.
The correct response should have been ‘Sorry you took a risk when you bought this site and it hasn’t paid off. We will NOT allow the building of any new buildings. We suggest you re-sell the site at a price which will allow just the conversion of the buildings.
‘Naturally we are sorry for any loss you may have incurred, but that comes with your business.’
And please don’t tell us that the original KEVII buildings are not capable of economic, indeed profitable development on their own. Of course they are if bought at the right price, one that does not pre-suppose a major development of additional buildings.