Sussex MPs slam Mayfields new town plan
Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames and Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert have united to condemn the proposed Mayfields new town of up to 10,000 houses between Henfield and Sayers Common.
In a strongly worded letter to Mayfield Market Towns, the company promoting the development, the MPs say that the company is "setting out to undermine" localism and Mid Sussex District Council's proposed district plan, which has ruled out the new town.
After one of the company's directors wrote to Mid Sussex Council warning them that "the writing is on the wall" for more housing, the MPs respond that it is "entirely unacceptable for you to pressurise local councils in this way ... We should like to remind you that, under the Localism Act, the South East Plan has been scrapped and that our district councils have the right and the responsibility to determine the correct level of housing for their areas."
The MPs express their concern that "proposals for excessive housing numbers and imposed strategic developments damage the promising new process of neighbourhood planning which is already underway." An earlier report for Horsham District Council, Mid Sussex District Council & Crawley Borough Council had ruled out a similar proposal for a new town in the Sayers Common area as unsustainable.
Mid Sussex's proposed district plan, published on 7 May, sets a housing requirement of 10,600 homes between 2011-2031. Outside the strategic sites identified, of which the Mayfields site is not one, it states that "the homes to be provided elsewhere in the District will come forward through Neighbourhood Plans." The plan calls for development which "reflects the distinctive towns and villages, retains their separate identity and character and prevents coalescence."
The MPs pour scorn on the company's claim to be excited to listen to local people, saying that "If you are indeed listening, you will be aware that there is very considerable opposition to your proposals in the villages of Henfield, Sayers Common and the wider Mid Sussex area, which would be ruined by this development. Merely listing the meetings which you have had is meaningless. If you ignore the views expressed then your claim to be listening is humbug."
The MPs also express concern about the pressure that 10,000 new homes would place on already overstretched infrastructure in the area. The new development would, they say, not be a market town but "a commuter town" of 25,000 residents with minimal local employment. The MPs point out that the development is not on a railway line, making the company's suggestion that residents would 'work where you live' or be 'leaving the car at home' to walk, cycle or take the bus risible.
The MPs also express their surprise that one of the company's directors, Lord Taylor of Goss Moor, is leading a review of planning guidance for the Government, as this appears to be a conflict of interest. They have written to the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, asking him to investigate the matter.
1. The full letter from Nicholas Soames and Nick Herbert can be read here.
2. Mid Sussex Dictrict Council's proposed District Plan can be read here: http://www.midsussex.gov.uk/8264.htm
3. Horsham District Council's policy on planning can be read here: http://www.horsham.gov.uk/environment/planning_policy/14379.aspx
4. CPRE Sussex statement on the Mayfields proposal can be found here: http://cpresussex.org.uk/campaigns/housing-and-planning/planning/item/2327-mayfield-market-town-proposal
5. Mayfield's website can be found here: http://www.mayfieldtowns.co.uk/