Mid Sussex District Update November 2021
CPRE Sussex activity in Mid Sussex District and more widely
The Mid Sussex Local Plan
At a local level within Mid Sussex during the coming year we will be faced with a first sight of Mid Sussex District Council’s (MSDC) proposals to update its District Plan – an exercise that councils are legally required to undertake every five years. How will the Council address the Government’s expectations for Plans to require even more housing; and will the Council adequately address the particular need for affordable homes for local people in our rural areas that are so vital to maintain local services and facilities there?
We have already called on MSDC to ensure that its Plan update fills the current void of policy aimed at helping deliver on its net zero emissions target and to join the many other English councils that have set a target date for Mid Sussex to become carbon neutral; and to set best practice air quality standards. We will be pressing the Council on all these fronts.
Worth Forest & Center Parcs
We also face an upcoming battle to protect Worth Forest between Copthorne and Balcombe from a proposed huge new Center Parcs leisure complex there. A Center Parcs facility in this part of the country will be welcomed by many of us; but their chosen location within the High Weald AONB is one of the most environmentally sensitive spots in Sussex – an ancient woodland undisturbed for many hundreds of years, a Biodiversity Opportunity Area immediately adjacent to a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and a nesting hotspot for some of our very rarest birds. Not to mention the climate change and loss of biodiversity implications of digging up large swathes of ancient woodland.
Working with likeminded environmental organisations we will be calling on Center Parcs to find an alternative, less sensitive, site and to plant a new woodland around it instead of tearing the heart out of this very special place. If this area is not sacrosanct and safe from commercial development, where in Sussex is?
Elsewhere in Sussex, we are fighting to protect unspoiled countryside just below the Downs, between Plumpton and South Chailey from a threatened new commuter estate of 3,000 houses, and to protect the Knepp “rewilding” estate near Horsham from the risk of housing development to its north that would destroy its connectivity with other neighbouring woodland etc. We are also working with groups promoting sustainable transport options and mis-routed road expansion schemes and the unsustainable expansion of Gatwick airport.
At a national level CPRE is pleased that the Government has paused its “take an axe to it” planning reform proposals, too many of which would be deeply destructive. We applaud the Prime Minister’s adoption of CPRE’s longstanding campaign to Put Brownfield First with his recent positive comments about promoting development of sustainable brownfield sites ahead of green fields. The devil will as ever be in the detail; and CPRE will continue to make an effective case for sensible, locally-involving, planning reform, and for protective environmental regulation.
We will of course keep members updated on these issues and all our regular work om all aspects of CPRE’s mission to fight for our countryside and rural communities. We welcome your feedback: email@example.com