New market town would ‘destroy’ character of area say MPs

JPCT 060614 S14240310x Tesla factory launch Storrington. Nick Herbert MP -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140606-143403001
JPCT 060614 S14240310x Tesla factory launch Storrington. Nick Herbert MP -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140606-143403001

A new 10,000 home settlement between Sayers Common and Henfield would ‘destroy’ the character of the area - according to the two local MPs.

Mayfield Market Towns scheme for a new settlement was discussed on the eighth day of examination hearings into Horsham District Council’s local housing plan on Tuesday November 18.

Sir Nicholas Soames, MP for Mid Sussex, and Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel and South Downs, argued the scheme was unsustainable, undermined localism, while they also criticised Mayfield for its behaviour.

Mr Herbert said: “This is an area of open countryside occupied by villages and the character of the villages would be destroyed if a new town of 10,000 homes was built.”

He continued: “This developer has set to give the impression to my constituents the development is an inevitability and has high level political support and will go through.”

The MP argued that the plan was unsustainable, involving construction on land prone to flooding and with inadequate infrastructure to support a development of 10,000 homes. He said that the developers’ suggestion that most residents would work within the new town was “nonsense” and that most would use cars to commute to work because the new town was not built on a railway line.

Mr Herbert strongly criticised the developer, saying that he ‘had never experienced behaviour of this kind in my constituency in the nine years I have been an MP’.

He said Mayfield did not have sufficient landowners’ permissions and the proposal was a ‘chimera’.

Sir Nicholas added: “The impact of it will bear very heavily on Mid Sussex and particularly Burgess Hill.”

But John Rhodes, of Quod speaking for Mayfield, said: “It would be a better strategy if the plan proposed a new market town in the south of the district to meet not only the needs of the Horsham district but also assist in meeting the documented needs of the adjacent authorities.”

Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl (LAMBS) has campaigned against proposals for a market town, which would be split between the Horsham and Mid Sussex districts.

Barrister Richard Turney, on behalf of LAMBS, said: “The entire sustainability model that is put forward by Mayfield is predicated on capturing employment in the market town. We believe this is unrealistic and not credible.”

Claire Tester, head of economic promotion and planning at Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC), explained that its own local plan was being published for eight weeks of consultation this Friday.

She said: “The most sustainable strategy is to allocate significant development to Burgess Hill and rules out a new settlement and focuses development in our three towns and growth to meet local needs of the villages.”

Ms Tester expressed concern over the potential impact a new settlement might have to the council’s ‘ambitions’ for Burgess Hill.

However Mr Rhodes questioned how MSDC could advance with a plan without first setting its housing target.

Its previous housing plan was thrown out by the planning inspector late last year on its failure to meet the duty to co-operate tests set out in Government planning policy.

The hearings ended on Wednesday November 19.