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Major development between Lancing College and Shoreham airport

The Friends of the South Downs not only responds to planning applications within the National Park, we also look out for development proposals on or beyond the park boundary which might have a significant effect on the park’s special qualities. Below is our response to a current application alongside the A27 near Shoreham airport:

Pl app AWDM/0961/17: Demolition of existing buildings, erection of 600 new dwellings, non-food retail store, creation of country park, relocation of travellers’ site, new access to A27, community hub, primary school, landscaping: land west of New Monks Farm, Mash Barn Lane, Lancing

These are the comments of the South Downs Society, the national park society for the South Downs National Park:

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Midhurst Rother College: the lost footpath

The Society has today issued a press release — text below — highlighting its response to a current planning application in Midhurst and the loss of a valued footpath.

Last chance to restore our path

National park “Friends” group, the South Downs Society, has called on the National Park Authority to seize the last chance to reinstate a popular footpath.

When playing fields were laid out for Midhurst Rother College a few years ago the Society led a campaign to save the well used path from Lamberts Lane to Whiphill, leading across the Cowdray estate to Woolbeding and beyond. Although this proved unsuccessful, the Society’s efforts were partially rewarded by the creation of alternative permissive paths which gave some access to open countryside around the town.

But a planning application for new housing on Lamberts Lane to be decided shortly by the National Park Authority opens up the possibility of securing an improved and more direct path to Whiphill. It avoids the busy roads north and south of the college, an opportunity which the South Downs Society is urging the planners to take seriously.

Says the Society’s Policy Officer, Steve Ankers, “We don’t always rush to back proposals for new housing in the national park but in this case we’re talking about a brownfield site near the centre of Midhurst and a real opportunity to improve access to the delights of the national park. We’ve urged the Park Authority to be creative.”

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Chichester local plan

Chichester’s Local Plan was adopted in 2015. The independent planning inspector, however, required the district council to complete a review within five years to make sure sufficient housing would be planned to meet the needs of the area. This work will form the Chichester Local Plan Review 2034 and covers that part of the district outside the national park. The Society keeps an eye on plans being drawn up for areas just outside the national park to ensure that the park is adequately protected.

Our response to the recent public consultation appears below:

 

Chichester Local Plan Review 2034 Issues and Options Consultation

These are the comments of the South Downs Society, the national park society for the South Downs National Park. The Society has nearly 2,000 members and its focus is the conservation and enhancement of the special qualities of the national park and their quiet enjoyment. Our comments on this consultation are restricted to those questions of greatest relevance to us.

Qu 1: Cross boundary issues/duty to co-operate

The setting of the national park is a key element of its quality. The District Council, through the local plan and other decision making processes, has a statutory duty under Section 62 of the 1995 Environment Act to have regard to the designation of the park. The local plan must demonstrate how this duty is to be discharged.

Qu 9: Spatial principles

The Society’s three highest priorities from those listed:

  1. Locate development to minimise its impact on protected or locally important landscapes, heritage and biodiversity
  2. Focus development in locations where there is greatest potential to maximise sustainable travel (public transport, walking and cycling)
  3. Focus development in locations where there is greatest accessibility to employment, local services and facilities

 

Qu 12: Suitable locations for strategic development

Sites within Chichester City and south as far as the A27 should be considered to accommodate strategic residential development that will be well served by rail and bus services and close to the city’s amenities. City centre development is suggested in order to minimise the need for travel, and to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport as an alternative to the private car.

 

 

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Stanmer Park

On 8 December the Planning Committee for the national park approved a scheme submitted by the owners of Stanmer, Brighton and Hove City Council, for restoring elements of the park landscape and rearranging the car parking. The Society had welcomed the thrust of the proposals but objected to the large increase in car parking associated with the project.

The Society frequently takes the opportunity to address the committee on proposals on which it has particular concerns or which it wishes to support. In this case we were unsuccessful.

Here is the text of our oral comments to the meeting, from the Society’s Policy Officer:

SDNPA Planning Committee 8 December: Stanmer Park

I’m speaking this morning on behalf of both the South Downs Society and CPRE Sussex.

We believe there is much to welcome in the proposals. Stanmer is a major source of enjoyment and access to the national park. Indeed, living only a few minutes away, I have been a regular visitor to the park, the house and tearoom for many years and know the site well. The city council is to be commended on its efforts to reinvigorate the estate and secure external funding to that end.

We welcome the removal of parking from the access roads and its relocation to the perimeter of the park, provided this can be adequately screened. We agree that the provision of access to the area round the walled garden, the house and the church from any direction other than the entrance gates would be unacceptable.

We acknowledge the need for existing residents and businesses to have vehicle access to their properties, both for themselves and for their customers, and that there will therefore be some continuing traffic through the park. But, and it is a big but, we very much oppose the plan to increase significantly (a net gain of more than 200 spaces) the parking in the very heart of the estate in order to encourage substantial business growth in this inappropriate location – for a third refreshment outlet and for a commercial garden centre. Business growth like this should not be at the expense of conservation and quiet enjoyment.

References in the application to differential pricing between the car parks is misleading: if it were genuinely anticipated that motorists would be discouraged from parking in the centre of the park, there would be no need for such a large increase in numbers of parking spaces and the inevitably associated increase in traffic through the park, in fundamental contradiction to the stated aims of the scheme. It follows that we do not support the new access road between the church and the house or the tree felling programme required for the parking provision.

We would urge you to reject this element of the proposals and seek a more sensitive solution to the issues of traffic and access at Stanmer. The Park has good public transport links and the city council should do more to promote these.

Thank you.

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Major new housing development on the edge of Chichester

The Society has written today, 6 July, to local press in the Chichester area expressing our concerns over a planning application for 750 dwellings on the west side of the city. The text of the letter is as follows:

 

Joined up Planning

It may seem unusual for an environmental organisation like ours, the South Downs Society – the “Friends” group for the South Downs National Park – to focus attention on the need for a new road link but that’s our strong plea in connection with the current planning application for up to 750 houses on the west side of Chichester, described as “West Of Centurion Way And West Of Old Broyle Road”.

We campaigned against the loss of this site for new housing but we lost – it’s now allocated for development. But, if and when Chichester District Council agree a scheme for the site, it shouldn’t be allowed to proceed without a satisfactory highway access, and that’s what is in real danger of happening. The current application seeks permission to access the site from a new roundabout junction with the B2178 Old Broyle Road, with the general intention that at some unspecified time it will be possible to link the development to the A27 to the south. Meanwhile, the traffic generated by the new development will head in a variety of unsatisfactory directions, including through the national park.

The South Downs Society has submitted its objection to the planning application on this basis and we would invite others to join us. The District Council has a duty in law to demonstrate that it is taking the national park into consideration whenever it makes decisions – it must show that awareness now.