Center Parcs picks wrong site for Sussex development

20th July 2021

Center Parcs has announced a proposed leisure development at Oldhouse Warren, south-east of Crawley, but it could not have chosen a more inappropriate, environmentally sensitive site.

CPRE Sussex encourages sustainable development in the right place, but Oldhouse Warren is  not the right place for a large scale development.

A Center Parcs site covers about 400 acres; with up to 900 lodges; 4,500 visitors per day, 365 days a year; 150 indoor and outdoor activities centred round a ‘Subtropical Swimming Paradise’ with flumes and rides, a wave pool and children’s areas; a large spa; and numerous restaurants and cafes.

The Oldhouse Warren site (off Balcombe Road, Worth, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 7RZ) is within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Mid Sussex District Council is required by law to protect the natural beauty and tranquillity of the High Weald AONB from inappropriate or excessive development. In its recent response to the Glover Report, the Government pledged to increase protection for AONBs.

There are large areas of ancient woodland across the site and its value is described by Mid Sussex District Council in its landscape character study.

A major leisure development could not be built and operated at this site without ruining its landscape, biodiversity and tranquillity. Indeed, the development would be contrary to the Government’s principles of environmental enhancement, sustainable planning and climate resilience.

If Center Parcs submits a planning application for the Oldhouse Warren site to Mid Sussex District Council, it will be a major test of the effectiveness of the environmental protections the Government claims are built into the planning system. For the system to have any credibility, Mid Sussex District Council should robustly reject the application.

CPRE Sussex has written to Jeremy Quin, MP for the area, inviting him to support CPRE in persuading Center Parcs to find a more sustainable site where a development resilient to climate change can be used to enhance the surrounding landscape and biodiversity.

We will provide an update and seek help from CPRE Sussex members once we know more.

Read: CPRE Sussex letter to Jeremy Quin MP

Find out more about the site: www.midsussex.gov.uk/media/1767/lca-part-three-landscape-character-areas-worth-forest.pdf