Residents fear loss of ‘beautiful landscape’ at historic hamlet

JPCT 110214 S14070308x  Greatham listed buildings at risk by development. Protest group -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 110214 S14070308x Greatham listed buildings at risk by development. Protest group -photo by Steve Cobb

Twenty villagers gathered at a conservation area in a bid to stop a developer from ‘spoiling’ an ancient hamlet with connections to the Domesday Book.

Locals joined with members of the Wiggonholt Association and the Amberley Society to stand their ground at Manor Farm in Greatham Lane on Tuesday (February 10) in a campaign to protect a Grade II listed farm, Grade I listed church and a Grade II listed manor house from a residential development.

Applicant Stephen Davis has proposed to convert the Grade ll listed granary barn into a single dwelling, but Amberley resident Janet Aidin said the barn ‘encapsulates the history of farming’ and residents are ‘very anxious to protect it’.

“We feel that other forms of development and uses could be found for these farm buildings which would not militate against what is so fine and valuable for our heritage,” said Mrs Aidin.

In the conservation area, the church can be traced back to the 12th century, the manor house was recorded in the Domesday Book, and the barn is believed to have been a centralised grain store hundreds of years ago.

This is the third application submitted by a developer to build on the remote site that forms part of the South Downs National Park (SDNP).

In a letter to development management officer of SDNP, Richard Fergeson, an English Heritage spokesperson said: “The small size of the conservation area means that almost any change within it is likely to have an impact on its character, and must be assessed against the relevant policies.”

Horsham District Councillor Diana van der Klugt said the site is one of the most ‘unspoilt’ and ‘tranquil’ places that the community want to protect.

“This is not just about whether some agricultural buildings should be preserved and turned into housing, it’s about protecting the listed buildings.”

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) said in a letter to SDNPA: “We believe that the special nature of this site means that the intended new use needs to be extremely carefully considered and of a scale that will not detract from the character and interest of this important site.

“We do not believe that the current proposal meets these criteria and we therefore wish to raise a number of issues with regard to the recently submitted applications.”

Mrs Aidin continued: “It’s a location which would not normally be allowed for housing development in the countryside and its contrary to local policy, and permission for a development like this would be unacceptable to some of those policies.”

The plan also proposes the demolition of the barn’s surrounding sheds and outbuildings.