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Public meeting: MPs brand Mayfield "a con"

Friday, 01 November 2013 08:57

Photo © David Rees Davies Photo © David Rees Davies

Hundreds of Sussex residents more than filled Adastra Hall, Hassocks, in a significant show of protest against the Mayfield market town proposal. It is estimated that more than 400 people attended the public meeting on Friday 18 October about the developer’s proposal to build 10,000 homes in the countryside between Henfield and Sayers Common.

The scheme proposed by the developer – Mayfield Market Towns Limited – would consist of a new town almost as large as East Grinstead for up to 25,000 people, in an area with inadequate infrastructure for development on this scale and limited opportunities for jobs locally, making it a commuter town. A protest group has formed in response to the proposal, Locals Against Mayfield Business Sprawl (LAMBS).

The evening’s first keynote speaker was LAMBS’ chair, Anthony Watts-Williams, accompanied by MPs Nick Herbert and Nicholas Soames, who emphasised their commitment to oppose the scheme through their support and by voicing concerns in Government. From CPRE Sussex, Dr Roger Smith chaired the meeting and Georgia Wrighton was a panellist. The meeting was organised jointly by Locals Against Mayfield Business Sprawl (LAMBS) and CPRE Sussex.

It was acknowledged that development and affordable homes are needed, but it was pointed out that the scale of this development would be far in excess of the housing target outlined in the local council plan. Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel and South Downs, said of the developer: “Their business from the beginning has been to bully the local council to get them to increase the housing target.”

The Mayfield market town proposal was widely condemned as being neither appropriate nor sustainable for the area, with Anthony Watts-Williams raising the environmental concerns and pointing out that so far “there has been no meaningful environmental assessment.”

Nick Herbert outlined why the area is unsuitable for the development due to its position on a flood plain, plus insufficient infrastructure including transport links and sewerage. He concluded: “You could hardly list better reasons to oppose a proposal like this so don’t let anyone class you as a NIMBY. This new town proposal is a con, not wanted by the parish council or district council.”

Nicholas Soames, MP for Mid Sussex, declared it to be “an appalling, opportunistic proposal.” [Pictured below, Sussex MPs Nick Herbert (left) and Nicholas Soames receiving a petition on behalf of locals © David Rees Davies]

Nick Herbert emphasised the importance of preserving the Sussex countryside from such proposals, saying: “Something that characterises this part of the world is the countryside. West Sussex remains a predominantly rural county, it’s beautiful. We want to protect it as a rural county.”

To oppose the Mayfield scheme, Mr Herbert argued that it was important to “stand behind our local plans and localism.” Georgia Wrighton, Director of CPRE Sussex, said a letter had been written to the Planning Inspectorate from CPRE Sussex, “We wanted the Inspectorate to know we are observing the proposal and we’re on the case.” Nicholas Soames concluded: “Tonight we’ve made a really wonderful start. We will see off this proposal.”

Following the meeting LAMBS representatives took these photographs taken from Twineham Bridge of flooding on the proposed site, further illustration of the inappropriateness of this scheme:


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