Anger over housing earmarked at Buck Barn: ‘Dumping concrete on strategic nature site’

Leading conservationists have hit out after it was revealed yesterday that land at Buck Barn is being earmarked as one of four major Horsham development sites.

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 12:42 pm

They accused councillors of ‘dumping concrete’ on a strategic nature site.

The Buck Barn land is on the edge of the world-renowned Knepp Estate which has undertaken a hugely successful rewilding project.

Three other sites - at Southwater, Billingshurst and west of Ifield - are also proposed for development.

Isabella Tree on the Knepp Estate SUS-210505-134646001

Strong opposition to the Buck Barn development has already been voiced but Knepp owners Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie today accused councillors of trying to ‘blindside’ objectors.

Isabella said: “It beggars belief that Horsham District Council is planning to build at Buck Barn – a site with 30-40 per cent high nature value that lies at the heart of HDC’s own Wilder Horsham District nature recovery network plan.

“This nature recovery document should have been published months ago but has been kept out of the public domain by HDC.

“The people of Horsham District have a right to know that the council is dumping concrete on one of the most strategic sites for nature in this district.

“This is a council that, by its own admission, didn’t give equal consideration to the environment when first considering this site – something they are absolutely required to do.

“It seems the councillors who support the Buck Barn development are so committed to this allocation they are doing everything they can to blindside us all.’

Council officers’ recommendations for the four development sites to be included in Horsham’s local plan review is due to be discussed by the council’s cabinet next Thursday (July 15).

If agreed, the document would go to the full council and then be published for a six-week period of public representation before being submitted to the planning inspector for an independent examination.

Meanwhile, other potential development sites have been excluded, including one at Rookwood Golf Course and one at Adversane. Huge public opposition was put forward to both of those and there is now relief among objectors.

A spokesman for the BigSTAND protest group, which has been voicing opposition to development at Adversane, said: “We are very pleased that the very thorough and professional officers’ report recommends that Adversane should not be included in the draft Local Plan.

“This is what we hoped for and expected. We are not surprised by the officers’ recommendation.

“It is entirely consistent with any objective analysis of the facts. Lack of infrastructure and doubts over delivery were clearly very important factors.

“We now hope that Horsham councillors will follow their professional officers’ clear recommendation not to include Adversane in the draft Local Plan at the Cabinet meeting on 15th July and at the subsequent council meeting.”