West Sussex MPs Nick Herbert (Arundel & South Downs) and Sir Nicholas Soames, (Mid Sussex), spoke out against plans for a 10,000 house development in front of an audience of over 500 people on Friday evening (21 June).
Both MPs underlined their opposition to plans by Mayfield Market Towns Limited to develop a ‘Garden City’ across 1,200 acres of greenfield land between Henfield and Bolney which falls between their constituencies.
The public was orgainsed by the action group Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl (LAMBS). The local MPs were joined on the platform by the Founder of LAMBS Anthony Watts-Williams, Mid Sussex District Councillor Norman Webster, Horsham District Councillor and Chairman Brian O’Connell, the Chief Executive of the Sussex Wildlife Trust Dr Tony Whitbread, Dr Roger Smith of Sussex CPRE and Kenneth MacIntosh from Hands Off Henfield.
The audience heard why the location of the proposed market town is wholly unsuitable. Both Horsham and Mid Sussex District Councils are proposing local plans that do not include the Mayfield new town.
The MPs and councillors all agreed that Mayfield’s proposals would undermine these local plans and the neighbourhood plans of the affected villages.
Councillor Webster said: “Mid Sussex does not support this proposal. It is not in our district plan which has a bottom up approach and has widespread local political support. It is not supported locally by Neighbourhood Plans either. It is developer led by a national company, and we see it giving no benefit to the local area.”
Speaking for Horsham District Council, Mr O’Connell said: “We have made provision for the houses we think we need in the Horsham District for the next 20 years, and that does not include Mayfields.
“We did look at their policies… they claim there are no objections from Statutory Consultees, but this is only because the variable in their planning makes it difficult to assess the impact on things like transport and flooding.
“But this is because the Environment Agency, the Highways Agency and West Sussex County Council cannot assess the impacts due to lack of information.”
Nick Herbert MP repeated his strong opposition to the new town, saying: “It does not have the support of the local District Councils, it certainly does not have the support of the local Parish Councils and I can assure you it does not have the support of either of the local Members of Parliament.”
He went on to say: “It is on greenfield land – land that, as we saw over the winter, is prone to flooding… and it is nowhere near a railway station.
“With absurd pretence this company has suggested that most people in this new town of 10,000 houses will work within the town. We know that’s not true… In fact it’s nonsense… what will happen is that they will get into their cars and drive to work.
“This is therefore an entirely unsustainable proposal that will not fulfil the conditions for a new town, garden town, Garden City – call it what you will. It is an unsustainable proposal that will not pass any of the tests.”
Sir Nicholas Soames MP said: “These people will stop at literally nothing. They have lobbied every councillor – they’ve been after them, they’ve tried to get them to meet them and to talk to them. But our councillors won’t have it – they are rock solid on this, and know perfectly well that this is the wrong proposal, from the wrong people and in the wrong place.”
Sir Nicholas also stressed the importance of supporting the LAMBS campaign against Mayfields.
“Together we have a more than fighting chance to see this off,” he said, but he warned that it could take some time, and both MPs urged local people to continue to support that campaign.
Report and picture contributed by from The Rt Hon Nick Herbert MP.