Dome architect speaks out against Mayfield Market Town proposal

Henfield - Millennium Dome
Henfield - Millennium Dome

A world famous architect has lent his support to campaigners objecting to a scheme which would see a new town the size of Haywards Heath built on countryside around Twineham and Wineham.

Mayfield Market Towns wants to build a 10,000-home town on 1,200 acres of countryside between Sayers common and Henfield. The company has been lobbying councils throughout Sussex, claiming the new town would solve the area’s housing problems.

However, Lord Rogers, who designed the Millennium Dome, Lloyds of London and the Pompidou Centre in Paris, says there is enough space in London and other UK cities to meet most of Britain’s housing needs and that building a new town in the countryside would be ‘an environmental disaster’.

In a letter to the protest group Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl (LAMBS), Lord Rogers said he was chair of the Government’s Urban Task Force in 1999, which established the only sustainable form of development was to build on derelict land.

The eminent architect added: “There are thousands of acres of brownfield land available in the South East of England.

“Existing settlements already contain ‘live, work and leisure’; public transport, schools, hospitals, churches, meeting halls and existing social and physical infrastructure.

“Greenfield land has none of these facilities in place and therefore it will mean that more cars, roads, sewers, etc will be required which is why it is not environmentally sustainable.”

Lord Rogers also sent LAMBS a copy of a letter he had written to Lord Adonis in January, in which he said he was ‘nervous of any proposals to relax restrictions on greenfield development to create a new generation of new towns’.

He wrote: “We must protect and make the best use of our existing urban communities and assets.

“There is still sufficient space in London and our other cities to build many more homes: 62,000 hectares of derelict or vacant brownfield land would allow space for nearly 2.5 million homes at current average densities, meeting the majority of housing need this decade.”

LAMBS’ Founder Anthony Watts Williams, who lives at the centre of the proposed new town site, welcomed Lord Roger’s comments.

“It is a relief to hear someone talking so much common sense,” he said.

“Lord Rogers is a world famous architect with a wealth of experience and expertise – if it doesn’t make sense to him, then you have to ask why Mayfields is still pursuing this crazy scheme?

“No one here can understand why anyone would want to target this area when there are so many negatives against building something of this scale here – it is totally unsustainable and undeliverable.”

A spokesperson for Mayfield Market Towns said: “Lord Rogers is of course entitled to his views about how best to meet Britain’s housing needs. However, even if there is enough space in London to meet housing need, not everybody chooses to live in a city.

“There is a combined total of 5,331 households on the waiting list in Mid Sussex and Horsham, and many more living in rented accommodation or living with family until they are able to afford a home.

“We feel that these households should not just be told to go and live in a city. Many local people are priced out of rural areas and Mayfields believe that a New Market Town provides the best solution for local housing provision without distorting existing towns and villages.”