Friday 6 June 2014

Mayfield Market Town – one of many threats to the Sussex countryside.

I was delighted by the number of concerned responses to my last blog on Mayfield Market Town, where I reproduced an excellent article by Jane Simmons focusing on barn owls.  Clearly many people are concerned not only about this threat, but about unsustainable development pressure throughout Sussex

As well as proposals for the east of Henfield, there are other threats north of Horsham, north of Burgess Hill, in the Low Weald around Bexhill and many in more places besides.  On top of this is the worry about another runway at Gatwick (with a large amount of likely associated development), threats of developing the A27 through the National Park and of course the ongoing threat of oil fracking.

This is a time of major pressure to develop infrastructure in Sussex and elsewhere in the South East. We are now seeing developers jumping into the vacuum left by recent changes to planning policy, taking advantage of the absence of strategic plans and the time needed to update local plans, and promoting their own ideas and interests.

What struck me from the comments, however, was the desire for people to get engaged in issues like this, and try to do something about what they see as threats to the Sussex countryside.  Indeed there were a few complaints that we are not doing enough to help with this.

We do what we can with our very limited capacity within the Trust, trying to focus on the strategic level of planning to influence decisions and site allocations before the planning application stage. Even so, we can barely scratch the surface by ourselves or even in joint ventures with other countryside organisations. But we can enable people who are concerned about the development of a site to engage in the planning process and make sure they have their own impact.

  1. Please visit our website for information and advice on how to get involved in planning decisions and make your concerns heard. Further advice can also be found through CPRE Sussex , the RSPB, and the Woodland Trust .

  1. It is right for people to be concerned as soon as the threat becomes apparent. Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl (LAMBS), are campaigning against this proposal and other groups have petitions that you can sign. You can also write directly to your MP expressing your views.

  1. Recording what you know about a local area, especially what species and habitats are present is also an incredibly valuable way to build a picture about biodiversity on both a local and landscape scale. We would always encourage you to submit your data and sightings to the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre  and help inform the ecological baseline for the county.

  1. There is currently no formal planning application for Mayfield Market Town for people to respond to. So the chance for formal input from the Sussex Wildlife Trust is limited at the moment.  However we are working on our response to the current consultation on the proposed submission Horsham District Planning Framework. This strategic document sets out where and how development will happen in Horsham District over the next 20 years and will be the framework around which decisions about new towns, including Mayfield should be made. Local knowledge is a vital part of these plans, so why not make your own comments before the consultation ends on the 27th June.

  1. Or how about feeding directly back to the developers of the proposed Mayfield Market Town themselves as they have set out their proposition and are inviting feedback. Simply let them know how you feel.

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