The Development Brief is upon us …

Coldwaltham Meadow Conservation Group


The Development Brief for Coldwaltham Meadow has arrived!


The South Downs National Park has now produced a final draft Development Brief for 30 houses, a shop and two car parks in the flower-rich hay meadow at the end of the village. Only those who live in Brookview and Brookland Way have been contacted by the National Park, telling them that comments on the Development Brief should be sent by email to or by letter to Mark Waller-Gutierrez, South Downs Centre, Midhurst GU29 9DH by 26 April 2018. The National Park then plans to submit the Development Brief, with comments, to the Local Plan Government Inspector next month, to support their Local Plan proposals for the meadow.


Why has the National Park only sent letters to residents of the Brookview and Brooklands Way estates about this? Everyone in the Parish is entitled to comment, by email or letter to the addresses given above. We think the National Park is trying to avoid receiving more negative comments.  They admit that “The allocations that received the most representations were SD64: Land South of Coldwaltham, SD89: Land at Pulens Lane, Sheet and SD92: Stedham Sawmill”.  Clearly, they don’t want to receive any further proof of the strong opposition to their plans.  Of the four Development Briefs produced by the National Park, Coldwaltham meadow is the only rural greenfield site. Why? (You can view the development brief online at )


Have your say


Just by chance, the Annual Public Meeting of the Parish Council is tomorrow evening Tuesday 17th April in St James School Hall, Church Street, at 7:30. This meeting is for you to have your say, an ideal opportunity to tell the Parish Council what you want and how you want them to respond. They are responding to the Development Brief and want to know your views.


The Coldwaltham Meadow Conservation Group have met with the Parish Council, and we are in broad agreement upon the need to stop this Major Development. But we will need your support if we are to send a strong message to the National Park to say:


Stop this Unfair Treatment of Coldwaltham Village


Some Development Brief response points:

  1. Coldwaltham Meadow an outstanding, special example of the natural beauty, wildlife and countryside the SDNP is supposed to “conserve and enhance”. The Local Plan Vision, its two Main Purposes, Objectives, General and Core Policies all indicate why the Meadow should be protected and the Development Brief withdrawn. Developing the meadow is also against the Park’s Dark Skies policy.


  1. SDNP are aware of the meadow’s conservation importance, due to information given to them by SWT, RSPB, Natural England (NE) and ourselves. Despite this, the Development Brief states building on the meadow must enhance its diversity. This is impossible. They are determined to develop the meadow and have made up nonsense to justify their plans. There is only one way to enhance its biodiversity: leave it alone and continue managing it as a meadow.


  1. Michael Gove recently stated that rewarding farmers who created flower meadows will be a Government priority, so why are they rewarding a farmer to destroy one?


  1. Submitting the Development Brief for very limited consultation before the Inspector has seen the draft Local Plan conflicts with National Planning Policy guidelines and is against advice contained in the Development Brief itself. (“token consultation where decisions have already been made”). It also compounds the lack of consultation by the National Park already associated with Policy SD64.


  1. Development Plans for the meadow are against the key Sustainable Development principle of “ensuring a strong, healthy and just society”. The local community is expected to accept the loss of cherished views, a spoilt landscape and increased disturbance to internationally important wildlife and habitats. Child safety and community security will be threatened because pedestrian and cyclist access from the A29 will join the existing Brookview and Brooklands Way estates via the Children’s Play Area. The shop is unlikely to be built and won’t last; the houses could be built elsewhere within the Parish. All the local landowners we consulted were ignorant of the so-called “Call for Sites” that was supposed to have taken place.


  1. Developing the meadow is also unsustainable in terms of the lack of village facilities and employment opportunities for the new inhabitants, with very limited public transport services. This will result in a significant increase in car usage around the village and on the busy A29.


  1. The Brief is stated in terms impossible to achieve; sustainable design cannot compensate for the loss and degradation of an irreplaceable and scarce habitat. There is no on-site mitigation possible for this loss. Development of the meadow cannot deliver a “full stop” to Coldwaltham. The current village boundary is being ignored, so why shouldn’t any new boundary also be ignored in future? The village will inevitably join with Watersfield and eventually become a small town.


  1. The Development Brief gives a false impression of the meadow in terms of landscape sensitivity and scenic beauty, containing unattractive and unrepresentative photographs selected to flatten perspective and topography and avoid reference to the vibrant beauty of the site in summer. This is presumably to downplay the significant impact that development will have on what even the Park acknowledges as a site of High Sensitivity for landscape in their so-called Landscape-led Local Plan.


  1. The Development Brief dismisses existing residential development as being of“limited architectural interest” and requires that developers must “Consider ways in which the current, poor quality settlement edge can be improved…” These are offensively-stated value judgements, arrived at with hindsight. Both the Brookland Way and Brookview estates were built with Local Planning Authority support and were presumably not considered to be of “poor quality” at the time of construction. The requirement that any proposed new development should “improve” the existing settlement edge is not a justification for building on a scarce habitat. In future years, the new development may not be regarded as an improvement either.


  1. The village already suffers from a lack of social integration due to the development of separate housing estates, one after the other, along the A29. Building another new estate at the end of the village will exacerbate the lack of social integration, rather than encourage it.


  1. The Development Brief goes against the 2014 Village Plan. In asking us to comment on this development brief, we are being invited to dismiss our Parish’s view of development and suggest instead how best to destroy an irreplaceable and cherished biodiverse cultural heritage asset. This Development Brief should be withdrawn and the SDNPA should be considering the other alternative sites for development in the village, that our group has identified. Limited development on these alternative sites is far less damaging to wildlife and the landscape, and they are far more compliant with the SHLAA-derived criteria we have outlined in our submission to the Local Plan. For more information, visit:

Advanced Notice – The Coldwaltham Meadow Development Brief is upon us!

Dear Meadow Campaigner
We have just learnt that the revised Development Brief for Coldwaltham Meadow is now being checked by the Chair of the South Downs National Park Authority’s Planning Committee before being issued for public consultation. It is likely to be available for public comment, starting from either the week beginning 12 March, or the week beginning 19 March. We were told that there will be a three-week period for comments to be made, which means that the closing date for comments will presumably be either 30 March or 6 April.  Please can you comment on this Development Brief; it is very important to let the National Park know that we are not giving up! It will send a clear message to the Inspector who will be examining the Local Plan that we all care for our meadow.  We are being victimised, this is the only residential Development Brief for the whole of the National Park. You might wonder why this is the case; we think this is because 1) our Parish Council didn’t object to houses on the meadow in 2015 and still do not objected to development in the Meadow, they have simply asked for fewer houses; 2) We do not have a Neighbourhood Development Plan, and our Parish Council has so far refused to produce one; and 3) The landowner is on the Board of the National Park Authority.We think that the National Park is trying to influence the Inspector by producing a detailed Development Brief for Coldwaltham Meadow, to try and justify the destruction of such an important site for wildlife, landscape and cultural heritage. We have to counteract this by stating that it is inappropriate to develop the meadow; development can take place elsewhere within the village, with far less impact.
An awkward time
The consultation time is not very convenient: it will cut across the Easter Holiday period for many of us, and we wonder if this is intended by the National Park, in the hope that people will be too busy to comment. At this stage, we do not know precisely what the Development Brief looks like, or how much has been changed from the earlier draft, and it is most unsatisfactory to be given such a vague start date. We do know however, that whatever the Development Brief contains, it is totally inappropriate to build any houses on the meadow, so we have prepared a statement which we are going to send to the National Park Planning Department in any case, which appears at the end of this email. Please feel free to use it, or bits of it, with your own comments. Thanks! If you want to know what our comments on the earlier draft were, see our  but be warned, the new Brief might be different! 
Please help 
1. Could you contact the Parish Council, to find out if the Development Brief is available for comment and how to get hold of it? We are concerned that the Parish Council may not wish to comment at all, which is very disappointing, so they need to know that residents are concerned and want them to represent the community.  The Chair of the PC at the last PC meeting said he thought they had spent too much time on housing consultation and that he didn’t want the PC to continue to be proactive in this matter. We therefore suggest that if you want them to comment, you ask them to do so, and why! Perhaps the best way to contact the Parish Council is to email the Clerk, Dona Sherlock-Fuidge, on or telephone 01798 873747. Thanks!
2. Could you contact the South Downs National Park’s Planning Department and ask them the same questions: when will the Development Brief for Coldwaltham Meadow be available for comment, and how can comments be made?  Chris Paterson is the Communities Lead for the National Park, and he can be contacted by phone on 01730 819286/07872 410447 or emailed on planning We have been told that there will be no need to fill in a complicated form, so please feel free to email your thoughts on the Development Brief for the Meadow. Thanks!
One more thing
3. We read in the Parish Council Notes in the Link magazine that there will be a public meeting held by the South Downs National Park Authority on Thursday 22 March, starting at 2:00pm, to present a progress report on the South Downs Local Plan. Unfortunately, we will not be able to attend that meeting, much as we would wish to, so it would be so useful if some of you could attend, to represent the Group, and to let us know what is going on. Clearly, the Parish Council know more than we do, for the Agenda has not yet been released. If you can attend on our behalf, please let us know by email ASAP. The meeting will be at the South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9DH. We will let you have the details about the Agenda as soon as they emerge. Thanks again! We feel that we should say here that we do not recognise the account of the November Public Meeting referred to in the Link report; we were there (and so were a lot of you!) and we observed that no attempt was made by the Parish Council to ascertain whether there was a consensus about anything. We had offered to distribute a preference survey to all who attended, but this was refused by the Parish Council. We also find it galling that John, in the report in the Link, appears to accept that building on the meadow is inevitable. We don’t!
We are determined to fight to the end to save Coldwaltham Meadow from Development; this is a major opportunity to make our voices heard and we are so grateful for any support and help you can give with this.
All the best, and grateful thanks,
Jim Glover & Committee
Coldwaltham Meadow Conservation Group
Coldwaltham Meadow Conservation Group’s response to the South Downs National Park Authority’s Development Brief for Coldwaltham Meadow
1. We all assumed that the formation of the South Downs National Park Authority would protect our countryside from inappropriate Development, for your first main purpose is to “Conserve and enhance natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage”.  What better single example of all these attributes could you find than our flower rich hay meadow, the only one in the Arun Valley?
2. Your draft Local Plan refers to a Vision, two Main Purposes, seven Special Qualities and ten General Policies. It also provides nine Local Plan Objectives and ten Core Policies. All these documents define what you should stand for and what you should do; every one of them gives a clear indication of why you should withdraw the Development Brief for Coldwaltham Meadow and protect this site.
3. You may have been unaware of the special quality of Coldwaltham’s flower-rich hay meadow because the Planning Department failed to consider that sites in receipt of government funding to enhance wild flowers might be of conservation importance. There is no excuse for ignorance now; The Sussex Wildlife Trust, The RSPB, our Group and Natural England have all informed the Planning Department that this Meadow is important for wildlife. You know that the adjacent Wildbrooks is the most important and sensitive wildlife site in the National Park, for no other area within the National Park has a comparable combination of national and international designations. And yet there are statements in this Development Brief that building houses and landscaping must enhance biodiversity. There is only one way to enhance a flower rich hay meadow and that is to continue the management which has created it. Building houses, planting trees and encouraging public access will simply destroy it.
4. Environment Secretary Michael Gove recently announced that it will be a government priority to reward farmers who create flower meadows; why are you rewarding a landowner (who should know better, as a Board Member of the South Downs National Park Authority) who wishes to destroy one? The only conclusion we can draw from this untimely presentation of such a seriously flawed document is that the you are absolutely determined to develop the meadow and will make up any nonsense to justify your plans.
5. The Planning Inspector has yet to see the draft Local Plan; to submit this Development Brief for limited consultation so far in advance of the Local Plan’s ratification means that your planning decisions are being made outside of the Local Plan process. This is not consistent with national policy guidelines on plan-making and community consultation, specifically paragraphs 17, 150, 155, 196 & 216.
6. One of the key principles of sustainable development is “ensuring a strong, healthy and just society”.  Yet you expect us to give up our views of the countryside, and accept the loss of a beautiful meadow, with increased disturbance to the Wildbrooks, for a shop that probably won’t be built and almost certainly won’t last, for houses that we have shown could be built elsewhere in the village. This is neither just or fair; the “Call for Sites” from the SDNPA was so muted that we were unable to find any other landowner in the village that was aware of it.
7. We cannot live within environmental limits if a major development is built in this village, which has few work opportunities, very limited facilities and no public transport worth the name, for the part-time bus service is unsuitable for commuting and the railway station is over 2.5 miles away. This Development Brief will generate significant increased car use on the busy A29 and around the village, particularly if the proposed shop is commercially viable enough to be built.
8. The Development Brief for Coldwaltham Meadow is stated in terms that are impossible to achieve and should therefore be withdrawn. In asking local residents to comment on the Development Brief, we are being invited to suggest how best to destroy an irreplaceable and cherished biodiverse cultural heritage asset. Instead, you should be considering the alternative sites our group has identified in the village, which are far less damaging to wildlife and the landscape.

The Draft Development Brief for Coldwaltham Meadow; our comments and how they were received

Hallo Meadow Campaigners, here’s an update for you:

The Development Brief for Coldwaltham Meadow was up for discussion by the National Park Planning Committee on Thursday 18 January and three of us (Chris Yeardsley, Jim Glover and Chris Skinner, with June Somerville coming along to provide moral support – many thanks June!) all travelled to Midhurst to give the Committee our views on the document at the South Downs Centre. We were all allowed to speak for just three minutes each, and this is what we told them:

Jim spoke first, followed by Chris Y and Chris S. Unfortunately, a speaker from Genesis Consultants, acting on behalf of the Barlavington Estate, then followed us, speaking in support of the Brief, claiming that the meadow wasn’t that special and that they would conduct a whole swathe of wildlife surveys to inform their work. Hmm.

For the three statements, click here: CMCG Statements

A discussion then followed. They took on board a number of our points and It was agreed that they would address the use of jargon and rewrite the Brief so that it would be easier for us to understand. Margaret Paren, Chair of the South Downs National Park Authority, also attended the meeting in an ex officio capacity (non voting) and she indicated that she had read our submissions to the National Park about the meadow, so they are certainly taking us seriously. This was due to you all submitting your comments, despite the difficult online and email systems they used. Thank you for that.

Margaret Paren remarked that she wanted the importance of the surrounding wildlife sites to be emphasised, that all trails from the development should be routed through to public footpaths, and that information boards should be displayed on the edge of the wildlife sites, so that people would know they are special.

She also commented that it would not be appropriate to have public art and play structures in the meadow, and that references to them should be removed from the Development Brief.

That being said, despite our attempts at getting the Brief thrown out, or delayed until after the Inspector has looked at the Local Plan, the Brief was approved. But we were there to register our objection, and we were successful in that.

We convinced the Planning Department that changes need to be made to the Brief, and they have agreed to make them, but we don’t yet know when it will be ready for public consultation. The were talking about a three-week consultation, some time in February, but it may be that the changes they are making will delay this. Apparently, the reason they want to produce the Brief so early is because they want their vision for the meadow to be in place in good time, for the guidance of future Developers. Huh.

We will let you as soon as we know when this is happening and tell you how we can all respond to the consultation. We still hope the inspector will reject the meadow as a site for development, but in the meantime, the Development Brief consultation is an opportunity for us to restate our objections, which we must take advantage of.

We also managed to get the local press to pick up on the story on the day of the meeting and we will send them a report of what happened to keep the story alive. Here’s the article, click image for larger version:

All the best, and we’ll keep in touch:

Chris and Jim

Coldwaltham Meadow Conservation Group

CMCG Local Plan Submission

Hallo Meadow Campaigners

Well, we’ve done it…. our submission about the Local Plan has been sent off online and it took ages! Still, it’s sent off now and let’s hope they read it!  For those of you who have difficulty sleeping, try reading some of it yourselves, it will send you to sleep in no time. But we said we would put it on our website, so here it is, all 16 parts of it!  Let’s hope it works. In terms of the process, we may not hear anything from the National Park until the end of March, but we’ll keep you in touch with what’s going on.

Coldwaltham Parish Council’s Statement about Coldwaltham Meadow to the National Park

Dear Meadow Campaigners

Coldwaltham Parish Council’s Statement about Coldwaltham Meadow to the National Park
Firstly, grateful thanks to all of you who attended the Parish Council Meeting last night (14 November) to hear what the PC would say about the National Park’s plan to allow 30 houses and a shop, with a public open space and a car park, to be built on Coldwaltham Meadow. It was good to see you.
The Parish Council had prepared a statement for the National Park, which they approved and gave out at the meeting. It will appear on their website, but we wanted to provide you all with a copy in time for you to respond to the SDNPA so we have attached it below with this update. We will also put it on our website.
Good news?
Well, the good news is the statement from the PC: “We cannot endorse or support major development of the Brookview site (SD64) as proposed in the pre-submission document [Local Plan].” 
This is a powerful statement, which the National Park will have to consider, particularly if lots of us have also sent comments in to the National Park. However…
Bad news
The bad news is another statement from the PC: “we would propose that the SDNP [South Downs National Park] should consider the potential for small scale developments of 6-8 houses, which would avoid the impact on landscape, traffic and ecology of a new 30 house ‘estate’ in a small community and location.”
This sounds eminently reasonable, and was partly our suggestion, but for the fact that the Parish Council have proposed that these ‘6-8 houses’ can be built in a variety of locations in the village, including the meadow. Unfortunately, the PC doesn’t indicate where the other locations are, or how many groups of 6-8 houses would be acceptable. We assume that the other areas of land the PC refers to are those that came forward for discussion at the Public Meeting (the areas shown on the map we posted through your door), but the PC doesn’t say this; the only location that is mentioned by name is Brookview.
What does this mean?
We are very concerned that the PC has decided to ignore the convincing evidence we provided and to treat the meadow as if it was no different from any other potential site for development. As you all know, we have spent a huge amount of time gathering considerable evidence about the importance of the meadow for wildlife, and how unsuitable it is for development. The PC is fully aware of how building on the meadow will damage the landscape and cause increased disturbance to the internationally important wildlife sites that lie right next to the meadow. We believe that that the PC is guilty of playing off one end of the village against the other without any recognition of the very large number of Coldwaltham Meadow Conservation Group Supporters there are, compared with the very small number of objectors to the other three sites. It was also alarming to hear Guy Nelson claim during the meeting that he had taken into consideration anonymous comments from local residents: CMCG suggested that a questionnaire be provided at the public meeting at Sandham Hall to record the number of supporters and objectors for each site but the PC were very strongly opposed to this.  Instead, they can claim they are trying to please everybody by proposing a scattering of small developments throughout the village, but we fear that this will only generate more uncertainty; how many clusters of 6-8 houses? Where will they go?
We carry on fighting
Rest assured, this proposal is not acceptable to us. We are opposed to any housing in the meadow, and will continue to fight to save it from development. And just in case anyone out there thinks we are overstating the importance of the meadow for wildlife, the following statement from Natural England, the Government Agency for protecting wildlife, supports our cause:
“Natural England have raised concerns with the National Park Authority regarding the allocation primarily with respect to the quality of the application site itself, the need to re-evaluate the clear biodiversity value of the site and the various ecosystems services that it provides. It is for the National Park to evaluate this allocation to ensure that it is compatible with the various policies within the emerging local plan.” (source: Natural England, responding to a Freedom of Information request, made by us on 1.9.17).
Please write to the National Park
From all of the above, you can see how important it is to make your views known. We really don’t want any houses in the meadow, no matter what the PC says. If you haven’t done so already, please email the National Park about how the meadow is important to you and why it mustn’t be built on. Please include your name and address and say that the meadow’s reference number is: Policy SD64, so they know which site you are commenting about. We suggest you tell them you were not consulted. If you want more suggestions about what you could say, see our website;  The deadline for your response is next Tuesday 21st NovemberYou can email them on: or you can write to them at: Planning Policy, South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9DH.
Save Coldwaltham Meadow!

Review of the SDNPA Development Brief

Hallo Meadow Campaigners, some more news:
1. The Parish Council has changed the time of theirmeeting on 14 November at Lodge Hill, it starts at 7:30, not 8:30. They will be meeting to discuss what they are going to submit to the Local Plan, so it will be very important for as many of us as possible to be there to tell them what you think and hear what they have to say. We are all entitled to two minutes worth of speech at the start, so if you have any comments, even a few brief words about the meadow or any of the other sites offered by local landowners, please come and make them known to the Parish Council at the meeting.
2. STOP PRESS: The National Park Authority has produced a development brief for Coldwltham Meadow, even though the Local Plan consultation is still in progress. This clearly shows they are determined to press ahead with their plans for the meadow even before they have the results of the Local Plan Consultation. What’s more, they only gave the Parish Council 8 days to make a response – so much for public consultation! To their credit, Our Parish Council objected to this, and as a result, the National Park Authority has agreed to withdraw the Development Brief until the consultation period for the Local Plan is over.  But it will appear again, you have been warned.
This new Development Brief is 40 pages long but we have attached a copy and we have put it in our website for you to see. It will certainly appear again and we suggest you have a look to see what the SDNPA are really thinking. The following is a summary of what we thought of it:
1. A poorly-written piece of work
The Brief is full of mistakes, indicating that it has been produced as a desk study, rather than by anyone with knowledge of the site. This is indicated by references to flood risk mitigation, when the site is halfway up a sandy slope, and by the description of the field as “fairly flat”.
The Site Analysis is incomplete, indicating the direction of views across the site to the South Downs in one direction but omitting to indicate that there is a much wider panorama from east to west. The photograph captioned “wildflower meadow view to the south” is actually a view to the southeast, and the others photos clearly indicate that excellent views from the site are provided to the southeast, south and southwest.
Other mistakes include showing individual trees on a map of the site that disappeared years ago and labelling the disused canal in the nature reserve as the River Arun. One of the pages is headed: ”A vision for land at Brooklands Way, Coldwaltham”, which is the name of the old site that was withdrawn two years ago, whilst at the bottom of the same page, and all the others, is the correct footnote “Land South of London Rd, Coldwaltham”.
2. Pretentious jargon
The email accompanying the Development Brief states: “The brief is a proactive step for the site to shape, guide and control the form of development allowable so that developers, the local community and stakeholders have some certainty as to how the site will be developed.” Yet the Design Appendix, supposed to be at the end of the Development Brief, is missing.
The brief is also full of pretentious, empty phrases such as: “…a new community village shop, which successfully provides a place for neighbours to engage and build social capital” and  “Each landscape layer has a history but it is particularly the landscape elements resulting from the interaction between people and their environment which helps a site’s history unfold.”  and “These [roads & rights of way] are the foundations of movement within and beyond the site, providing numerous ecosystem services such as recreation, tranquility and inspiration from nature.” 
The brief is also riddled with jargon – who knows what the phrases “form and massing”“historic coherence” and “use views and vistas within the site to help legibility and sense of place” mean, apart from Landscape Architects?
3. Future consultation?
How can we be expected to comment on all this “fluff”? That being said, the Development Brief clearly states that there is only one part of the brief upon which the views of the community will be sought (and by the developers, not the National Park), and that is the bit about the children’s play area. As we all know, the children’s play area is currently in a relatively safe location, set in a cul de sac with very limited access; turning this area into the main thoroughfare between the two estates will make it much less safe for children to play in.
4. The details
This is what we think the Development Brief means:
  • The highest density of housing, including a shop, apartments over the shop and two-storey, terraced housing, will back onto Brookview South, stretching from the A29 down to the Children’s Playground;
  • Lower-density detached and semi-detached two-storey houses will be built around the south and west side of the site with fine views across the valley;
  • Roofs will be high pitched and will almost certainly block views from existing houses. This will be particularly noticeable because the land at the top corner of the field, next to Brookview South, is 3-4 metres higher than the existing houses;
  • There will be a new pedestrian and cycle route running from the A29 and the new estate through the children’s play area to the Brookview estate;
  • The shop will have a delivery yard and refuse storage behind it, close to existing houses
  •  There is also likely to be an electricity sub-station (if so, it will hum 24 hours per day; we know this because we have one at the bottom of our garden).
5. Contradictions
The Development Brief is confusing because it is contradictory:
  •  Two parking areas are referred to (one for the shop and one for the “Public Open Space”), but unlike previous documents, no location for the Open Space car park is given;
  • The brief contradicts itself when it states that the primary purpose of the “Public Open Space” will be providing an alternative to the adjacent nature reserves (presumably to reduce disturbance to wildlife) and then goes on to stress: “Trails are to be provided through the site to link with existing trails on the flood plan”. This will actually increase access and levels of disturbance;
  • The north western end of the meadow is earmarked for landscaping, but no details about this are given. There are references to tree planting elsewhere in the brief; this would seem the most likely form of landscaping, but it should be noted that tree planting in the area in question, apart from destroying the meadow, will only provide a limited screen to the west and southwest, where the landscape intrusion is not much of an issue. It would not provide screening to the south and southeast, where the need for landscape screening would be greatest if the development proceeds;
  • The brief then refers to a Meadow Management Plan for what’s left of the area (less than half) once the houses have been built. It also states that an accessible, landscaped open space will be provided, which will feature: “public art and structures, including signing, wooden sculptures, birds, bee and bat habitats/boxes and ‘children learning through play’ equipment to interpret the rich biodiversity of the site.”  This is impossible, because they are talking about the same area.
  •  It seems that the “Public Open Space” is intended as a dog exercise area, to reduce the impact of uncontrolled dogs upon the wildlife sites nearby. However, there is no evidence that dog walkers will prefer to walk around the field behind the new housing estates when there will be direct and easy access to the much more interesting and scenic walks through the open space and onto the adjacent nature reserve. If the meadow does become a popular exercise area, then farmland birds and small mammals will retreat from the disturbance, wild flowers will be affected by the trampling and the nutrient enrichment caused by uncollected dog mess (this acts as a fertiliser for the grass, and the abundant growth then smothers the flowers). A meadow management plan would therefore not be compatible with the public open place, for most of the meadow wildlife would be lost;
  •  The brief is full of impossible assertions about how the development must make the site better for wildlife, when in fact development will be destroying it. An illustration of this is provided by phrases such as: “The Coldwaltham development is progressive in its environmental understanding through the use of ecosystem services; it …supports biodiversity and the natural environment.” and  “local species should be understood from the outset and supported by maintaining key habitats and landscape features in the site by improving their condition and connectivity for wildlife” and “areas of former farmland should be managed and enhanced and where appropriate to maximise biodiversity potential and encourage wildlife corridors”; 
  • Reference is made to the “historic field boundaries” that border the meadow and that “existing mature trees and hedgerows to be retained and enhanced”, yet “A new vehicular access off the A29 should be provided with appropriate visibility splays” and “Any shop unit should be located close to and with good visibility from the A29…” This means that most of the hedgerow along the A29 will have to be removed. Hedgerows are foraging and commuting routes for bats and they will avoid artificial lighting; they also forage over the insect-rich meadow, particularly when the wild flowers are in bloom. The erection of bat boxes will not compensate for their habitat loss, particularly as some of the rarer species that occur in the area will not use them;
  • The Brief requires the development to “provide a significant and characteristic buffer” to the wildlife sites; yet the meadow already serves this purpose. Destroying half of it will drastically narrow and reduce the buffering effect, to the point where it will be ineffective;
  •  The Development Brief is supposed to be landscape-led, yet siting two storey houses with high-pitched roofs at the highest point of the site will ensure that they will be seen for miles from across the valley, despite: “the introduction of new trees to minimise the impact of the development in long distance views”. There are no native species of tree (and reference is made to planting “new, native and locally indigenous trees”) that will grow tall enough to do this, even after many decades of growth;
  • The brief refers to cultural heritage, yet omits any reference to the site being a flower-rich hay meadow, The Local plan does not recognise any historic land use in the National Park as cultural heritage, only ancient buildings and this is clearly wrong;
  •  All the Perceptual Qualities described in the brief will be adversely affected by the development: ”Tranquility”; “Dark Night Skies”; “A real sense of nature”;
  •  It is deeply ironic that having infilled the largest of the two fields between Coldwaltham and Watersfield, the development must “create a full stop to the settlement of Coldwaltham”; the new development is already outside the existing settlement boundary for the village. Only a 150 metre wide field will be left between the two villages and how long will it be before they merge? Perhaps this will feature in the next Local Plan.
The claim that the National Park Authority has produced this development brief “to give increased certainty to the local community” may be true, if by that they mean we will be certain the National Park does not care about the damage that will be done and will make up any nonsense to justify their plans. An extremely scarce, eight-hectare flower-rich hay meadow (the only one in the Arun Valley) will be destroyed to provide two hectares of housing. The National Park may have been in ignorance about the meadow’s status as a biodiverse cultural heritage asset, but they no longer have this excuse. There never has been any excuse for allocating so many houses on such a large plot (the largest area out of all the residential allocations in the Local Plan) immediately adjacent to the most important and sensitive site for wildlife in the National Park.
If, like us, you are outraged by the plans to develop Coldwaltham Meadow, and want to know what the Parish Council thinks about all this, come to their meeting at Lodge Hill on Tuesday 14th November at 7:30. 
And most important of all: please remember to send your comments on the Local Plan to the South Downs National Park before 21 November.
Link to the brief:

Comments on the Coldwaltham Parish Council Report for The Link Parish Magazine, October 2017

The attached PC report of the Sandham Hall meeting on 19th October for the Parish Magazine makes interesting reading, not least because it appears to give the views of the PC, who said that they would not be discussing and agreeing their views until the next PC meeting on 14 November. However, we have been urging them to act sooner and so they have!  Our group, our map and our comparative table are not mentioned by name but we are pleased that the PC urges everyone to use this information in their submissions to the National Park.
Comparative table correction.  One new revelation at the meeting requires a factual correction to our comparative table: Criteria No 15  “Cultural value of site?”  The suitability score for sites 2 & 3 should be decreased to low in view of their historic “fieldscape assart” status.  The final scores for site 3 & 4 are now 12 & 9 respectively. This makes very little difference to the overall score and it is worth noting that the National Park indicates in their “Settlement Context Study Sensitivity Analysis” map that they do not regard fieldscape assarts to be of cultural sensitivity and so they are unlikely to be seen as a constraint.
The PC statement that all four sites “have, to differing degrees more negatives than positive about them” is a good way to bring us all together but it ducks out of the important point that one site is far less suitable than the others. A small number of articulate neighbours of the new sites made passionate objections, including a number of unsubstantiated claims, about the wildlife and historic value of their local sites. We are all very fortunate that our village is surrounded by wonderful wildlife and anyone who lives next to a green field is unlikely to welcome houses instead.  The point that the PC have failed to acknowledge so far is that only site 1 has a very high wildlife value. We have considerable evidence that not only confirms this but also shows that the other 3 sites have low value by comparison.  There were also a number of exaggerated claims about the close proximity of the Stane Street Roman Road to sites 2 & 3 and to a lesser extent site 4.
It was the owners of site 3 & 4 who first suggested that a better approach would be a number of smaller sites integrated into the village instead of yet another separate Estate.  We recommended this approach to the PC and we are glad to see that they appear to be taking it up. It remains to be seen how potential future neighbours of even small groups of houses will respond to the prospect of new houses next door. It is also far from certain that the National Park will be willing to give up their easy, quick and dirty solution to new housing rather than work with our PC to develop a carefully integrated long term plan.The reason why the SDNPA is seeking to dump so many houses on Coldwaltham is simply because unlike the other two villages in the HDC area we are the only one where the PC did not produce a Neighbourhood Development Plan.
Guy Nelson said at the meeting that if anyone wants a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) then they should join the PC and do it. This begs the question why our PC is not willing to do it. It really will be essential to have a NDP  before the next housing allocation comes along in a few years’ time.  In the meantime, we have been advised by our Planning Consultant that it is not too late to have a Neighbourhood Development Order.  This could protect our Meadow and advocate alternative sites, but this can only be done by our PC. We must therefore urge them to take steps to protect our village, both now and in the future.

October News Update

Hallo Campaigners, here’s an important update for you:

New sites for housing are now available in Coldwaltham: please come to the Parish Council Public Meeting on Thursday 19 October, 7:30pm at Sandham Hall. Have your say about where any new homes should go, how many we need and how many should be affordable. We will be there to defend the meadow and hope you can make it too; every vote will count!

Two new landowners have offered three alternative sites to the Barlavington flower-rich hay meadow that we are seeking to protect. These sites are shown on the following map together with a table which compares their suitability, using South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) criteria.
This is the land that is being offered:

See larger clearer version here

Here’s a comparative table for each site, based on the criteria for assessing housing land used by the National Park:

See larger version of the table here

The SDNPA has already decided that we should have up to 30 new homes in the village and we think it is unlikely we can stop them at this late stage, but we can still try!
We think we can get them to choose a better location but only if we can get widespread agreement and if we can put a strong case together with our Parish Council to the SDNP Planning Authority.

Some affordable housing for local people is needed in our parish, but not on site 1, owned by the Barlavington Estate. This is because it is the only flower-rich hay meadow we have left in the Arun Valley. 97% of meadows like this have already gone from the UK’s countryside in the last 30 years. The South Downs National Park Authority should be protecting this meadow and its wildlife, but instead they have allocated it for up to 30 houses in the proposed South Downs Local Plan. To make matters worse, the flower-rich hay meadow is one of only two fields that separate Coldwaltham from Watersfield. This ribbon development will spoil the rural character of both villages and will certainly spoil the view; it will be a blot on the landscape visible for miles from the South Downs Way and from Amberley Village across the valley.

Together we can demand that the National Park’s Planning Authority looks at the alternative sites for housing in the parish and selects another more appropriate site(s). The National Park has made a mistake; there is no need to destroy this beautiful meadow and spoil our views. Building on Site 1 is against all of the National Park’s Purposes, Objectives and Core Policies as well as its seven Special Qualities; these all dictate that the flower meadow is unsuitable for development and should be protected.

We don’t suggest how many houses should be built, but we can tell you that a proportionate number of new houses for the parish, based upon the number of houses to be built in the whole National Park, would be eight. We have been told that because we don’t have a Neighbourhood Development Plan, we have been allocated more than our fair share of new houses. But whatever the number, they don’t have to be built on a scarce wildflower meadow. We want you and our Parish Council to decide where any houses should go and not be dictated to by the National Park.

Now is the time to make your comments about all of this to the South Downs National Park. Please contact the South Downs National Park and tell them what you think of their Local Plan, especially the bit about building on the beautiful flower-rich hay meadow! You have only got until 21 November 2017 to do this, so please have a go. Both the National Park Authority and the Planning Inspector will take notice of your comments, especially if there are a lot of them, because it shows that our community cares!

How to make your comments
(They haven’t made it easy for us, but here goes…)

  1.  Click CMCG_Plan to find out what the National Park wants to do at Coldwaltham.
  2. Make a list of the comments you want to make. This will be useful because you have to put each main comment on a separate form, and if you’ve made a list, you won’t forget any! The National Park will not accept a lot of points on one form.
  3. Have a look at the comments form, which you can download from:
  4. When the page opens, scroll down until you get to the heading You Can Comment by and select either Consultation Page or Comments Form. The Consultation Page is for online comments, and once you have finished, they should automatically go to
  5. If you want to email your form, select the Comments Form as described above, fill each one in with your comments and then email it to:
  6. If you want to post your forms, fill them in, print them off and send them to: South Downs Local Plan, Planning Policy, South Downs National Park Authority, South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9DH.

(Please note that although the SDNPA have asked for submissions to be made using their forms, you can simply write a letter instead…)

What we are saying
We know that you have all expressed a number of concerns about the National Park’s plans for the meadow. There are many points to be made, and we shall be submitting as many of them as we can. We shall put our comments on the website once we have completed them, but in particular, we shall say:

For Part B, each question,

1, on each form, the Policy number will be SD64;

2 we shall say No, and put a cross in all four boxes;

3. we shall say No;
4. we shall say the following; (but remember that each point will have to be made on a separate form):

The Local Plan is unsound because:
• Policy SD64 (the meadow) clearly conflicts with the principles of sustainable development set out in the Local Plan and in the UK Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.
• Local people were deprived of a formal Regulation 18 Consultation about the plans for the meadow.
• The development is out of all proportion for a small village that has few services and it will increase the use of the car because we do not have an adequate public transport system. There are few jobs in the village and the new residents will have to drive elsewhere to gain employment.
• Policy SD64 is not effective because it is not deliverable. There are conflicts between Policy SD64 and Local Plan Core Policies SD4, Landscape Character, and SD6 Safeguarding Views. Despite assurances that landscaping will reduce the impact of the new housing upon the landscape, the new development will be visible for miles from the South Downs Way[] and across the valley. Landscaping will not improve or enhance the sense of separation from Watersfield, which will only be one meadow away from Coldwaltham.
• Policy SD64 conflicts with Local Plan Core Policy SD9 Biodiversity and the UK’s National Planning Policy Framework for Conserving and enhancing the natural environment. Building on the flower-rich hay meadow will not protect and enhance biodiversity, it will destroy it. The meadow is a scarce cultural heritage asset; 97% of the UK’s flower-rich hay meadows have gone from the countryside in the last 30 years. The meadow is important for bats and farmland birds and is the only flower-rich hay meadow in the Arun Valley. The SDNPA has no record of any other in the whole National Park.
• Policy SD64 will also cause negative impacts from increased recreational pressure (walkers with uncontrolled dogs) and urbanisation on Waltham Brooks SSSI and the Arun Valley SPA.
• Policy SD64 does not represent the most appropriate strategy for delivering 30 new houses in the village; other sites have been offered by local landowners that are more appropriate.

For No. 5, we will say, on every form, that Policy SD64 should be deleted from the Plan as it cannot be modified to make it sound.
For No. 6 we shall say Yes
For No. 7 we shall say that we feel it necessary to participate in the Examination in Public because you have asked us to!

Etc etc. Please feel free to use the above, if you wish, but please use your own words, not ours, otherwise the National Park may ignore them. Please also add points of your own. Whatever you say, please submit it before 21 November.

Lastly, we now have raised
#FF0000 Raised £2,192 towards the £2,500 target.
Thank you so much!


September News Update

Hallo Everyone, here is our September update….

Firstly we all hope you have had a relaxing summer break. The hay has been cut in the meadow, but the grass is starting to grow again… Let’s hope that we are successful in our campaign and the meadow will be full of summer flowers next year and in the years to come. We have been beavering away and have a lot to tell you…

Headline News: The South Downs National Park’s Local Plan Public Consultation will begin on 26 September and continue for eight weeks until 21 November.

The final version of the Local Plan will be available online from 26 September, which is when the consultation starts.  We will study this final version as soon as it comes out and provide you with a summary of our main concerns shortly afterwards. We will also let you know how to make your views known, so that you can respond directly to the South Downs National Park Authority to tell them what you think. The more responses they receive from us the more likely it is that the National Park’s Planners will change their minds and the Government Inspector, who will take control at the end of March 2018, will listen to us and give us a further opportunity to comment in the final stages.

We have raised …
#FF0000 Raised £1,600 towards the £2,000 target.
A huge thank you to all of you who have supported us with financial aid, and a special thanks for the generous support from The Wildbrooks Society. We still have a long way to go however, so if you were intending to send us a donation but haven’t yet done so … now is the time. Please! It will all go towards saving lovely Coldwaltham meadow from destruction. We are trying to raise £2000.00 because 97% of our flower-rich hay meadows have disappeared from the UK’s countryside in the last 30 years and we don’t want Coldwaltham meadow to go the same way…

Ways to donate

  • Click on the Give heading  at the top of our website (or this link), which will take you to the JustGiving page.
  • Send a cheque to our treasurer, Chris Yeardsley, at 39 Arun Vale. Please make your cheque payable to Coldwaltham Meadow Conservation Group.
  • Donate directly to our bank account at Lloyd’s Bank, Sort Code 30-90-09, A/c No. 42878260.
  • If you would rather give cash, then stick it in an envelope and put it through our letterbox at 32 Brookview, and we’ll pass it on to Chris.

Your support is growing… 

In addition to sending in those splendid donations, we have had 500 visits to our website, and nearly 100 people have also signed our petitions. We have nearly 300 people on our database and we have had loads of Tweets and Facebook messages – thank you all for these! Please sign our petitions if you haven’t already done so, either online or at Coldwaltham Post Office. They are proof that the community cares about the meadow, and the greater the proof, the more attention will be paid to our submission when we send it off to the National Park.

And it’s working…
Your emails to the National Park Board and the Planning Department made a big impression on the National Park Authority; we have been told by Lucy Howard, Planning Policy Manager for the National Park, that they will be reducing the number of houses from the original 35-40 to 25-30. This shows they are taking us seriously and it also confirms our view that they do not have evidence of local need for so many houses in our village. This is a step in the right direction, but we don’t want any houses built on the meadow, especially when we know that there are alternative sites that could be used in the parish. Talk of a possible third location has been announced by our Parish Council and we will provide you with the details when we receive them.

We now have a Planning Consultant…
Who is helping us to prepare our submission to the National Park’s Public Consultation. As soon as the Local Plan comes out (it won’t be published until the 26 September, which is very sneaky!), we shall scrutinise it for any changes from the original draft and work on our submission. We will summarise the bits that refer to the meadow, and send it to you, with our objections, and put it on the website. We will also pass on the advice we receive from our consultant about how we need to express our concerns in a way that will make the Government Inspector take notice. Please have a look at the summary when you get it in early October and send in your objections to the National Park. We’ll let you know how this can be done and provide more details in our next newsletter in a few weeks’ time.  We must all have a go at this, so that the Inspector realises this is a real issue that many people feel strongly about. Lots of responses will hopefully draw more attention to the meadow. It is only one out of 38 other sites in the Local Plan, so we need to be noticed.

We have produced a meadow report
We have discovered that it was originally four or five smaller fields in the late 1770s, and that it was enclosed to form two or three fields in the 1840s. 44 endangered species protected by international law occur within one kilometre of the centre of the meadow and so do 116 species protected by UK law. For further information, please download the report. We produced it for the Parish Council, but we thought you might like it too.

Fundraising Group
Would you like to help raise money for the meadow by organising an event for us? We need some sort of a social fundraising group to do this, because we’re so busy with the Local Plan stuff. Various suggestions have been made about concerts and barn dances, and we have found some performers who have very kindly donated their services, but it all needs a bit of organising… If you fancy having a go, then please email us on .

The Parish Council needs to be convinced that they are fairly representing the views of the Parish when they respond to the Local Plan consultation. We know that the Parish Council want to hold a public meeting for all residents, so that they can assess what we all feel about the South Downs National Park’s housing proposal for Coldwaltham. The provisional date for the meeting is 19 October, in the evening, and it will be at Sandham Hall. Please come and let your views be known; we want to convince our Parish Council that it is in the villages’s best interest if we have some affordable housing built on an alternative site to the meadow. That surely would be the best of all worlds. Once we have confirmation of the date, we’ll let you know.

All the best,

Chris and Jim