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