‘Rewilding Adversane farm would be better than building a new town’

The West Sussex Gazette is campaigning to protect our county’s green fields from housing developments.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 2:49 pm
Steepwood Farm wildlife

We launched it on the back of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Tory Party Conference speech, in which he signalled a shift away from ‘jamming’ the South East with homes.

Prioritising building on brownfield land was also mentioned – something we heartily welcomed, given the swathes of countryside currently under threat.

Each week, we have been giving West Sussex groups the chance to explain why development would be bad for their treasured greenfield sites – and this week the focus is on plans for Adversane, near Horsham, promoted for up to 2,850 homes.

This week's WSG front page

Julian Trumper, of campaign group BigSTAND, penned the comment piece below, which featured on this week’s WSG front page.

Let us know your thoughts at [email protected]

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‘We want this fight to be the last one’ - by Julian Trumper

BigSTAND is a community of residents from Billingshurst, Pulborough, Broadford Bridge, North Heath and Adversane.

The name is homage to ‘STAND’ (Stop Adversane and North Heath Development) set up in 2009 to fight a proposed new town at Adversane.

Quite rightly that proposal was comprehensively thrown out in 2010, the principal reason being that local roads would not cope with the extra traffic.

So here we are fighting the same fight ten years later.

A few things have changed. The roads are busier, new housing estates in and around Billingshurst, together with new industrial areas, means that there is a lot more traffic on the roads.

A combination of more people and more home deliveries means that traffic volumes have increased substantially.

Adversane is situated on the junction of the narrow A29, and the even narrower B2133.

These roads will not cope with additional traffic without major (government funded) upgrades.

Horsham District Council says the developer’s claims about ‘trip internalisation’ are too optimistic and residents would still travel using private vehicles. HDC has acknowledged that existing traffic problems at Newbridge, Pulborough, Five Oaks and Washington would be made much worse if there was a new settlement at Adversane, in addition to the extra building around Billingshurst.

The developers say they would reroute the B2133 through the middle of their new town. They propose getting Network Rail approval for a new road bridge over the railway.

But artist’s impressions of the new town do not show a single car, van or lorry!

The land at Steepwood Farm is beautiful rolling Wealden landscape comprising ancient woodland,ponds, and extensive pasture grazing which is so beneficial for local ecology, wildlife and carbon capture.

The Barbastelle Bat, protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Country Act 1981, is a priority species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

It is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ on the Global IUCN Red List of threatened species. It is found only in southern England and Wales. The Barbastelle colony that roost in the Men’s Nature Reserve is known to forage over Steepwood Farm.

The developers say they will ‘make land available’ for a new railway station at Adversane. But, Adversane is just one mile from Billingshurst. Why would Network Rail ever want to spend millions of pounds building a new station at Adversane?

The developers say they want to create a new Poundbury. However, whichever way you look at it, Adversane will never be a Poundbury. Poundbury was built as an urban extension of Dorchester.

Adversane is in the middle of nowhere. Poundbury is situated on the junction of the major road links of the A35 and the A37.

The residents of Poundbury have from day one been able to lean heavily on the benefits of living right next to Dorchester.

Dorset County Hospital is one mile from the centre of Poundbury. From Adversane, the nearest hospital is 16 miles away.

Steepwood Farm at Adversane was not deemed an appropriate site for a new town in 2010 and it is still not.

That is why it was not included in the draft local plan that never got to full council in

July.

We want this fight to be the last one. In this year of COP26, the hedge-fund owner of Steepwood would get a lot more kudos by rewilding his farm than attempting to turn it into a new town.