VIDEO: Man calls for transformation work to ‘cease’

A man has demanded all transformation work of Henfield Common be ‘ceased’ after raising environmental concerns with Henfield Parish Council.

Dave Bangs, from Brighton, questioned whether Henfield Parish Council had considered the environmental damage which could be caused by transforming Henfield Common into two first-class football pitches.

Dave Bangs is unhappy with the work being undertaken on Henfield Common due to the environmental impact. Pic Steve Robards SR1711465

Dave Bangs is unhappy with the work being undertaken on Henfield Common due to the environmental impact. Pic Steve Robards SR1711465

However the council has responded to say it consulted widely on the project and no objections were made.

In an email to the council, Mr Bangs said: “As the parish council falls within the category of a public body, it has a responsibility under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC). This act instructs every public authority to have regard to the purpose of conserving biodiversity.

“You may be aware that if the parish council is in breach of its duties under that act it may be obliged to undertake the restoration of the site to its original condition, with the costs that entails.”

Henfield Parish Council decided to improve the drainage of the Memorial Field on Henfield Common and transform it into two football pitches after looking at Henfield’s playing fields quantity and quality.

Spraying to kill off existing grass on the common started late last month with formal work due to begin on May 30.

The project required a grant of £75,000 from Sport England and a total of £53,000 from Henfield Football Club, Henfield Cricket Club, the parish council and section 106 funding.

Work is expected to take up to two months to complete but Mr Bangs has called for the work to ‘cease’.

He said: “No planning application was made, despite the development being a material change of use of the site.

“The drainage works to be undertaken may harm the hydrology of the whole common.

“All further works to the football pitch project should cease until these issues of nature conservation have been addressed.”

Henfield Parish Council hoped that on completion of the project, the pitches would be available for use by junior teams in April 2018 and senior teams in September 2018.

The council responded to Mr Bangs’ concerns and said: “(The council) can confirm that there was no Environmental Impact Assessment carried out on the Henfield Memorial Field pitches.

“For your information Henfield Parish Council did contact Natural England, Historic England and The Open Spaces Society, amongst others, to inform them of the proposals to carry out the work. Only The Open Spaces Society responded and gave no objections to the work being carried out.

“I can confirm that the contract to carry out the renovation work has already been agreed between Henfield Parish Council and the contractor, and it is anticipated that the work will commence in the next couple of weeks, subject to weather conditions being favourable.

“Mr Bangs asserts that ‘no planning application was made, despite the development being a material change of use of the site’. This is simply not true. It is not a development of the site, but merely the renovation of an existing site. Horsham District Council has confirmed that no planning permission is required.

“The community has taken the decision to restore these playing fields to the required standard for the greater benefit of the whole village.”