Park’s planning committee is praised

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ENVIRONMENTAL campaign group, the South Downs Society - unofficial ‘Friends of the South Downs National Park’ - has this week welcomed the way the Park’s new Planning Committee has set about its business.

“There have been strong planning policies in place in the Downs for a while,” said the Society’s planning officer, Steve Ankers, “but now at last we have a dedicated National Park Authority with full responsibility for planning and we’re seeing the benefits.

“Monday’s meeting of the planning committee took another good step forward in protecting the interests of the Park. For example, we’re very pleased to see that the idea of major new housing estates north and west of Polegate, at the foot of the Downs, has been dropped. And the committee also sent a strong message at the meeting to West Sussex County Council that it does not want to see a huge import of landfill material to Boxgrove Quarry - the site is just outside the National Park near Halnaker, but tipping on the scale proposed would generate a lot of lorry traffic and have a major visual impact.”

These follow other decisions by the National Park Authority earlier in the summer when it put a stop to proposals for a new sand quarry at Kingsley in Hampshire, rejected plans for waste operations at Slindon Bottom and Stedham Mills in Sussex, and said ‘no’ to a major new housing estate at the former King Edward VII hospital near Easebourne.

“We’re keen to see the restoration and conversion of the old hospital buildings but not if it means more than 200 new dwellings out in the middle of the countryside. Like the National Park Authority we’re keen to support proposals that reflect local social and economic need, but conserving this special landscape has to come first,” said Mr Ankers.

The South Downs Society is a registered charity set up to conserve and enhance the beauty and amenities of the South Downs for the benefit of the public.