An emphatic rejection by a Government Planning Inspector states that Mayfields’ proposals are “not appropriate or lawful.” It also describes the rural location as unsustainable, unviable, undeliverable and “severely disadvantaged.”
Mayfields’ hopes of selling its scheme as a solution to housing shortages in Brighton were also dashed, with the document concluding that the “strong migratory pull of those wishing to live by the sea” could not be solved so far inland.
Inspector, Geoff Salter released his final verdict on the Horsham Plan on Friday, clearing the way for its adoption and putting an end to Mayfields’ hopes of building in the District.
The property company now faces the embarrassing prospect of going forward to the Mid Sussex hearing with only half a town and no High Street!
Mr Salter dedicated nearly two pages of his report to the new town proposal, highlighting the unsuitability of the site and pointing out that some of planning mechanisms suggested by Mayfields are not “appropriate or lawful,” saying;
“Such a significant large development could not be decided through a non-statutory process outside the development plan legal framework.”
He also attacked the proposals’ sustainability, in particular “its distance from railway services and the strategic road network and the potential usage and viability of the ‘park and ride’ proposals.” Adding,
“To my mind the location of the site beyond reasonable walking and cycle distance from the rail services serving LGW and the main employment centres along the route remains a severe disadvantage. Even if the MMT provided a significant amount of new employment, it is unrealistic to expect such a level of self-containment that a very significant proportion of travel to work by car would be avoided.”
Mr Salter reviewed not only the geographic constraints of the site but also the overwhelming strength of local opposition. He rejected out of hand Mayfields’ suggestions that this could be overcome by imposing Compulsory Purchase Orders on unwilling residents, saying;
“The deliverability of the preferred 10,000 dwelling option, with employment development, within two local authority areas without their support, and in the face of strong opposition from two local MPs, parish councils and local people, including land owners, is also an issue of concern. While compulsory purchase order (CPO) powers could be used if an agreed scheme were to be approved through the development planning process, that outcome seems distant at present.”
Although Mr Salter didn’t rule out the possibility of a new settlement in the District in the future he said that this need NOT be built at the location put forward by Mayfields and stressed that “such an option would have to evolve through cooperation and consultation amongst the local planning authorities and all the local communities involved.”
Ecology and flooding were given scant treatment in Mr Salter’s report and were largely dismissed due to a lack of evidence. Since the hearing, LAMBS has commissioned full professional reports on both these important issues to ensure that the strongest possible evidence is put before the new Mid Sussex Inspector this winter.