Hundreds oppose plan for new town

The panel at the  Mayfield public meeting
The panel at the Mayfield public meeting

AN MP has called for the Planning Inspectorate to be abolished, in light of a developer’s ambitious plans to build a new town just outside Henfield.

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert spoke out against plans for a 10,000-house development in front of an audience of more than 500 people last Friday.

He said: “I intend to table an amendment to abolish the Planning Inspectorate.

“I’m very sorry indeed that we have an unelected body that has done so much damage and we must stop more damage being done in the future.”

Mr Herbert wanted to ‘reassure’ residents that Mayfield Market Towns has been ‘losing battle after battle’.

He continued: “They’re desperate now to try and upset the planning process and we must not allow them to do so.”

The public meeting, organised by action group Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl (LAMBS), was held at St Paul’s Catholic College in Burgess Hill, where a panel of MPs, councillors and representatives of other organisations discussed their stance on the controversial proposal.

Concerns have been raised about the effect a new town could have on flooding, including in Steyning and Shoreham, and on the roads network in the area.

Mayfield plans to build a ‘garden city’ of homes, an academy and at least three primary schools, across 1,200 acres of greenfield land between Henfield and Bolney.

The land falls between the constituencies of Mr Herbert and Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames. Both underlined their opposition to the plans.

Mr Soames thanked residents for having the ‘gumption and determination’ to show their support.

He said: “We may win or things may well go against us.

“We will do the very best we can to make sure that the planning inspectors are obliged to pay for more attention to the wishes and the will of local people.”

The audience heard why the location of the proposed market town was wholly unsuitable.

Both Horsham and Mid Sussex district councils are proposing local plans that do not include the Mayfield new town. MPs and councillors all agreed Mayfield’s proposals would undermine these local plans and the neighbourhood plans of the affected villages.

Horsham District Council chairman Brian O’Connell said a proper assessment of the proposal was impossible due to a ‘lack of information’, including the impact on transport and flooding.

Leaflets were handed out including a map showing the impact the development would have on highways, which LAMBS claims Mayfield has overlooked.

LAMBS founder and chairman Anthony Watts said: “We are the custodians of our future generations. The area that we have together is the home of endangered wild life and loved by our children.

“Their plans are nothing more than vandalism. I can sum them up as greed, greed, vanity and greed.”

Sussex Wildlife Trust chief executive Tony Whitbread, Sussex CPRE representative Roger and Kenneth MacIntosh from Hands Off Henfield were also on the platform to oppose the Mayfield plans.