MPs reiterate opposition to West Sussex new town
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert and Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames have reiterated their strong opposition to a proposed new town between Henfield and Hickstead in West Sussex.
The MPs were speaking at a public meeting in Hassocks on Friday evening (18 October), organised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. 400 people from the surrounding villages packed into the Adastra Hall to hear about plans for Mayfields Market Town, a 10,000 home development.
Anthony Watts-Williams, founder of Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl (LAMBS), spoke out against Mayfield's proposals, saying that local people wanted to protect their 1,200 acres of green fields and woodland. He argued that the environmental and social impact of the development would be devastating for the area.
Mr Watts-Wiliams criticised the developers for distributing thousands of leaflets to homes north of Horsham in order to encourage residents there to support a new town in another area.
Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert slammed the "divisive and unnecessary plans". He pointed out that the new town was proposed by neither the Government nor the local authorities, but was a speculative application by developers who were trying to undermine local plans.
Mr Herbert said: "This is a serious threat. Mayfield is behaving appallingly in trying to undermine Mid Sussex's District Plan, which they effectively hope to get over-turned. They're not getting their way through the democratic process, so they're trying to subvert it. I think that is absolutely contemptible."
The MP said that the development would be a commuter town, not a market town, since most people - contrary to the developer's claims - would drive elsewhere to work. He added that the green field location was completely wrong for such a development, with no local railway, and well known flooding problems.
Mr Herbert said that more affordable housing was needed and local councils had to take difficult decisions, but proposals like this undermined their proposals.
Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames joined the criticism of Mayfield Market Town's attempt to undermine localism and the way in which the developers were setting local communities and councils against each other to achieve their objective. He backed the Mid Sussex Local Plan, which determined the housing needs of the area and set out where it should go, and argued that Mayfield's plans were neither wanted nor necessary.
Three West Sussex teenagers handed over a petition against the new town to the MPs at the start of the meeting. 15 year olds Imogen Watson from Twineham, Holly Richardson from Burgess Hill and Annabel Locke from Henfield collected over 300 signatures from those opposed to the proposals, using social media to boost the campaign.
1. For more information about LAMBS (Locals Against Mayfields Building Sprawl) please see their website www.lambs.org.uk.
2. For more information about the proposals from Mayfield Market Towns please see their website www.mayfieldtowns.co.uk.
3. In June Nick Herbert MP and Nicholas Soames MP wrote to Mayfield Market Towns to object to their proposals and the way in which the company was promoting them. For further information please see http://www.nickherbert.com/news.php/455/sussex-mps-slam-mayfields-new-town-plan.