I sent the following letter to Nick Herbert, South Downs MP, our district councillors, county councillor, parish council chairman and other interested parties who were on the panel of the meeting held in Henfield Hall on May 10.
I have heard from the gentleman representing the Council for the Protection of Rural England and from Lionel Barnard, our county councillor, but to date I have not heard from our MP or councillors, although I appreciate they are busy people.
It has been suggested that I ask you to print my letter, which might encourage others to air what they really feel about the loss of our countryside to the developers.
My letter reads:
Please bear with me whilst I give you a short introduction to my past. I was born on a farm in Adversane and moved to the hamlet of Okehurst where I grew up.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the area, this is on the outskirts of Billingshurst where I went to school.
I am married to a man who was brought up in South East London and we have one daughter who was brought up, first of all in the early days, in Horsham, but for most of her life, in Henfield.
We lived in Henfield for 28 years and then decided, for personal reasons, to move to Billingshurst.
We lived in Billinghurst for five years, returning to live in Henfield last October because we found Billingshurst a sad, very sad, version of the village it once was.
I have an aunt in Billingshurst who is 92 who has lived in that area all her life and is still living alone in her own house and even she says our decision to leave Henfield was foolish because Billingshurst has lost its character and its way due to over-development.
I am anxious that all the attributes that make Henfield a very special place to live, will not be lost forever, which I strongly feel has happened in Billingshurst.
A village can grow and needs to grow but there is a time when growth should stop. Henfield has of course changed over the years, and some of those changes have been a great asset to the community.
However, I am sure that further development will take away an intrinsic part of this village. It has a heart and a friendly atmosphere with an enormous sense of community.
Develop it more and all will be lost. The High Street will suffer and become a shadow of its former self. You have only to look at Billingshurst to see what over-development can do. One of our councillors said: ‘Without some development a community dies’.
That is propaganda; a real village survives when it remains a village with a thriving community.
As far as the young people are concerned, many leave villages today because their education gives them the opportunity to spread their wings and they have no desire to settle where they grew up, and those who return to their parents to live, do not do so because they want to stay in the villages, it is often because they can’t find work.
My own daughter went to Leicester University and worked in Budgens in the High Street until she found the work she wanted relating to her degree and then she moved away. She is now happily married and living in Reading.
With regard to the possibility of a large development beginning at Sayers Common, it seems to me that this will mean far more traffic in this part of West Sussex, at a time when people are encouraged to use public transport.
Not easy when there is no longer a railway to serve that area. As far as the threat to West End Lane is concerned, if it comes to fruition it will make both ends of our High Street very difficult to negotiate.
It will also mean that the disused railway line will no longer be the finite line for village development, so what next… development down to the Adur?
I hear what our MPs and councillors say about a local plan otherwise future development will be uncontrollable.
This is because both the Conservative Government and the last Labour Government are happy for the countryside to be lost. They will not discourage developers as they see it as a means to kickstart the economy.
It seems to me they are driving local voters into the arms of UKIP because as with everything else, they are not prepared to listen and heed the warnings of the public.
It was said that the developers are buying land which they ‘bank’ for the future when the economy recovers from this long recession, however, we can already see land disappearing under concrete.
An example is the A264 between Crawley and Horsham which is rapidly losing the green fields alongside it and much of it has building equipment in use causing delays.
There are large developments on the western fringe of Horsham while yet more estates are growing along the A264 from Broadbridge Heath - and this is while the economy is depressed and the developers are holding back for a sign of recovery!
I foresee little chance of our grand children and their children seeing a green Sussex.
The Downs might possibly be left untouched, but the remainder of West Sussex will be a collection of roads serving housing estates.
It would be more sensible to encourage firms and transportation where it is needed in other parts of the country. The pressure to build all over the South East will be a serious misjudgement and will one day, in the not too distant future, become a huge regret and eyesore to the generations to come.
I hope my time has not been wasted in writing my thoughts. Please pass on my views to those with the power to save our way of life and our countryside too.
SUSAN E. QUITTENTON
Batts Drive, Henfield