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 coldwalthambrief@southdowns.gov.uk 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 www.southdowns.gov.uk/developmentbriefs )

 

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:  www.coldwalthammeadow.org.uk