An MP announced that he intends to ‘abolish the Planning Inspectorate’ in light of a developer’s ambitious plans to build a new Sussex town.
More than 400 residents packed out a public meeting at St Paul’s Catholic College in Burgess Hill on Friday June 20 where a panel of MPs, councillors and representatives of other organisations discussed their stance on the controversial proposal.
Organised by Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl (LAMBS), the action group is mainly comprised of residents living close to the proposed site where Mayfield plans to build 10,000 homes, including an Academy and at least three primary schools, just outside Henfield, as stated on its website.
Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert said: “I intend to table an amendment to abolish the Planning Inspectorate.
“I’m very sorry indeed that we have an unelected body that has done so much damage and we must stop more damage being done in the future.”
Mr Herbert wanted to ‘reassure’ residents that Mayfield Market Towns have been ‘losing battle after battle’.
He continued: “They’re desperate now to try and upset the planning process and we must not allow them to do so.”
Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames thanked residents for having the ‘gumption and determination’ to show their support.
He said: “We may win or things may well go against us.
“We will do the very best we can to make sure that the Planning Inspectors are obliged to pay far more attention to the wishes and the will of local people.”
More Henfield homes
Residents voiced their concern over the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to grant on appeal 160 homes, by Barratt Homes, to be built just off West End Lane in Henfield earlier this month. In 2012 the inspector also allowed 102 homes, by Welbeck Strategic Land, east of Manor Close. Now an application by a separate developer for 72 homes has been submitted to the council for West End Lane.
Kenneth McIntosh of Hands off Henfield said that once all these houses are built there will be a population growth of 20 per cent.
“Where will our children go for schooling?” he said.
“We must support each other and work with each other, not against each other.”
Horsham District Council chairman Brian O’Connell said that they are unable to make a proper assessment of Mayfield’s proposal due to a ‘lack of information’.
“We can’t turn down applications if Southern Water tells us there’s enough sewage in the area, yet we know that we don’t have enough facilities because we have sewage running down our streets - so that tells you something about planning.
“Mayfield’s claim that there are no objections from statutory consultees - this is only the case because the variables in their application means that it is difficult to assess the impact on things like transport and flooding. The environment agency, the highways agency and West Sussex County Council cannot assess the impacts due to lack of information.”
Leaflets were handed out at the meeting including a map which shows the impact the development will have on highways, which LAMBS claim Mayfield’s has overlooked.
Also on the panel was LAMBS chairman Anthony Watts Williams, Roger Smith of CPRE Sussex and The Chief Executive of Sussex Wildlife Trust Tony Whitbread.
Mr Williams said: “We are the custodians of our future generations. The area that we have together is the home of endangered wild life and loved by our children.
“Their plans are nothing more than vandalism. I can sum them up as greed, greed, vanity and greed.”
For more details on LAMBS’ campaign, go to www.lambs.org.uk