SDNPA Local Plan – Comment Submitted

Coldwaltham Parish Council Response to SDNPA Local Plan Site SD64

In summary:

We cannot endorse or support major development of the Brookview site (SD64) as proposed in the pre-submission document. Nor would we support similar projects of such size at any of the other sites local landowners have recently submitted to the SDNPA.

The PC has consulted widely across the three villages in the period since mid-March 2017, when we first became aware of these proposals. There has been significant division in our community because of this proposal and because of the way in which this proposal was constructed without proper or due consultation or community involvement.

We cannot endorse any single site, on the scale of development that is proposed.  Together with Brookview, a range of sites have now been put forward, and we believe there is another way to deal with the local housing need.

We do not reject development in the village; we wish to support development which is affordable and would bring new people into the village, especially to support the School.

We do believe, and there is evidence for this, that there is a need for additional affordable housing in the village. Prices on current houses that are for sale in all three villages are way beyond the ability of local young people to ‘stay local”.  A housing Survey completed 4 years ago would suggest that the current development of 8 affordable houses (still to be completed) at Silverdale, Coldwaltham, would go some way to satisfying demand.

Therefore, we would propose that the SDNP should consider the potential for small scale developments of 6-8 houses, which would avoid the impact on landscape, traffic and ecology of a new 30 house estate’ in a small community and location.

We cannot support the scale of development proposed for Land South of London Road Coldwaltham (Section 9E in the Pre-Submission document). The status and costs of maintaining the public open space land have not been addressed; the site is one of only two in the National Park that were judged in the Sustainability Appraisal (June 2017) of the South Downs Local Plan, billed as ‘landscape-led’, to have a likely adverse effect on the landscape, which is of high sensitivity in the Arun Valley; and there are a significant number of ecological factors attached to this field. Evidence about this has also been submitted by other local residents.

This consultation has prompted other local landowners to submit land for potential development. These sites are no more acceptable to us than the land south of London Road for a single development on the scale proposed. They have, their own ecological and landscape factors together with historical features, all of which should mean no more than small-scale development carefully sited to minimise impact, here and at Brookview.

There is no objective evidence in our view to justify any large-scale development in our village. This is a reflection of the many thoughtful and considered comments along these lines that you will have received from members of the parish.

In constructing our Village Plan in 2004 and again in 2014, when all local residents and local organizations were consulted, large scale development was rejected; we have very limited infrastructure, public transport or employment opportunities.

For any development in our parish serious consideration has also to be given to the impact on traffic. The A29 is a very busy, signposted ‘trunk road’ which carries traffic between the South Coast, via Gatwick and Horsham. Any further access roads from significant housing locations will add to traffic and accident risks, especially at morning and evening peak hours. There are a number of “dangerous” and narrow bends within all three villages.

We also wish to express our concerns about how we got to our current position. We were not aware until the spring of 2017 (mid-March) of the new proposal and this has caused considerable distress and division within our community: we echo the sense that this process has been ‘done to us’ rather than as a process ‘with us’. This has only confused local residents, leaving them feeling divided, insecure and believing that what is proposed is against the fundamental aims and vision of the SDNP. This confusion we believe is the direct result of the way in which this proposal suddenly ‘landed’ in our village without proper process or in our view, without following published process.

In addition, there remains the difficult question about how any sites were initially identified, quite apart from the subsequent ownership conflict which has arisen. The Parish has no knowledge of any public and transparent process by which sites might have been identified in the months preceding the first communication we received in mid-March. The question as to how this occurred still needs, in our view, to be satisfactorily answered by the SDNPA.

In conclusion we would like to emphasise that we recognise the challenges faced by us all when considering housing provision. We look forward to working closely with the SDNPA in the future to put in place a meaningful and community supported proposal.

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