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; coldwalthammeadow.org.uk  The deadline for your response is next Tuesday 21st NovemberYou can email them on: planningpolicy@southdowns.gov.uk or you can write to them at: Planning Policy, South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9DH.
 
Save Coldwaltham Meadow!