Locals fight to keep the South Downs green

JPCT 240613 Members of Stop Storrington Sprawl, Richard Evea left and Howard Brunt with field in background which may be built on. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 240613 Members of Stop Storrington Sprawl, Richard Evea left and Howard Brunt with field in background which may be built on. Photo by Derek Martin
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Key representatives will be joining together with the local community to debate the growing concern of green field developments in Storrington.

South Downs and Arundel MP Nick Herbert, district councillor Barbara Childs, county councillor Frank Wilkinson and the County Times editor-in-chief Gary Shipton are just some of the officials in attendance at the ‘Stop Storrington Sprawl’ public meeting to be held this Friday, June 28.

The gathering, which will be taking place at Rydon Community College in Storrington at 7pm, will give the opportunity for residents to speak out about their views on the escalating number of development sites in the village and how it will affect traffic, pollution and medical facilities, amongst other factors.

Members of the action group ‘Stop Storrington Sprawl,’ which includes residents directly affected, will make a plea to the movers and shakers of West Sussex to enforce tougher measures against corporations like Wates Developments from saturating the village with homes.

Some of the areas affected include Melton Drive, Water Lane and Gerston Farm.

Stop Storrington Sprawl member and Melton Drive resident, Richard Evea, is living in the shadow of a site which could be developed.

He said: “The public meeting is to allow people to raise a number of issues and concerns with key people about building on green field sites.

“Developers are getting planning permission from Horsham District Council for large numbers of homes in really inappropriate places.

“We’ve had a lot of support. Particularly, Storrington parish council have put in a strong opposition to the developments and show a very comprehensive view.

“The district’s National Planning Policy Framework is what’s letting it happen - the district needs a new strategic plan.”

Also attending the meeting, South Downs and Arundel MP Nick Herbert has made public his views on protecting the rural landscape.

He said: “Development is a huge ongoing issue of public concern.

“I think we need to take great care that West Sussex doesn’t turn into a suburban sprawl.”

But, Mr Herbert does not want to rule out developments all together as homes are becoming ‘less affordable’ for younger people.

“That does not mean to say that we should say no to every single development. I think there is a general recognition in my constituency that there is some need for new housing.

“Homes have become less and less affordable and people are having to stay at home for longer and save up for years before buying a house. Rents are also high and people are being driven out of the constituency.

“There are hard economic realities that we have to provide for that.

“Yes, we can accept some new housing at sustainable levels, but there’s got to be adequate infrastructure to support it in terms of our roads, water, our availability of school places and our ability to see our GP within a reasonable time.

“But it mustn’t unnecessarily damage the character of our villages and suddenly turn them into towns, or lose the essence of my constituencies, which is there are discreet villages and small towns with a very strong sense of their own community.

As more ambitious plans are being proposed across West Sussex, Mr Herbert is worried that the planning applications’ size and lack of sustainability will transform areas into a ‘new suburbia’.

“Some of the proposals that we are seeing are absurdly grandiose. Proposals for things called garden cities are going to be bombed onto our constituencies - one at Barnham, one at Angmering and a proposal for a new town at Sayers Common are completely the opposite of organic, sensible, sustainable developments, they would transform the area into a new suburbia.

“What I’m arguing for is a sensible balance. The original housing targets were set too high. We want a reasonable level of provision that we can accommodate.”