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Protests against controversial Adversane new town plan

Martin Read – Reporter

 Residents from Adversane,the small conservation area between Billingshurst and Pulborough, are campaigning against plans by developer, Our Place, for a 3,500-house new town, with over 850 signatories to the petition. Kingswood Village Development Limited, the company behind the new town, has spent £14.2 million acquiring land in the area. BigSTAND, a group of residents’ associations in Billingshurst, Broadford Bridge, Marringdean Road, Adversane and North Heath have come together to oppose the plans – covering 150 hectares of Greenfield land – submitted to Horsham District Council for inclusion in the Council’s Local Plan. Our Place state that their ‘self-contained’ new town will include 3,500 jobs, together with a health centre, hotel, primary and ‘through’ schools, along with road and rail improvements. They propose developing the new town in five phases, with construction stretching over the next decade and beyond.

The developers say: “At Our Place we understand the importance of sustainable placemaking both in terms of creating mixed-use, mixed-tenure and mixed-age communities that grow, thrive and adapt over time, but equally important in terms of limiting the impact our developments have on our planet. Our Place defines, leads and champions sustainable development.”

However, residents contend that the developers have no experience of large scale developments, having only undertaken a few small scale projects, including a 23-home scheme in Spitalfields and a mixed-use scheme in Norwich.

Julian Trumper, Chairman of BigSTAND, says: “There are major reasons why the Adversane new town proposal should be rejected – the developers claim that the new town at Adversane would be largely ‘self-contained’, with at least one job per home. This is unsupported by any explanation and, even if large-scale employment could be attracted there is no evidence the jobs would be taken by residents, so there is likely to be a massive amount of traffic generated in the surrounding area and many extra commuters fighting for seats on trains to London at Billingshurst and Pulborough stations. Although the Adversane site is adjacent to the railway line, no new station is proposed. And, any new station will be decades away, and unlikely because of the proximity of existing stations at Billingshurst and Pulborough.”

Mr Trumper continued: “There is a lack of primary health infrastructure to support such a huge population increase – the nearest A&E departments are all significant distances away, at Redhill, Guildford, Worthing and Chichester. Also, there is the threat of coalescence of Billingshurst and Pulborough and the loss of the green gap between the villages, creating ‘greater Billingshurst’ –  residents have chosen to live in a pleasant village, not urban sprawl. Further, the site is in the centre of the barbastelle bat sustenance zone, a protected species, and one of the reasons why Mens Wood is a Special Area for Conservation, under the European Habitats Directive. The area is also home to barn owls and nightingales, enhancing the environment, which the development would put at risk. This proposal is wrong in so many ways. The Government says it wants to move towards a net zero carbon economy. It makes much better sense to concentrate new development either in places where the jobs, infrastructure and public transport are already, or in new settlements large enough and well enough located to support a full range of new facilities.”

The BigSTAND group adds: “Organic growth of housing is acceptable, but not the development of new towns or development of greenfield sites for pure profit.”

Our Place is, BigSTAND advises: “Backed by billionaire Conservative donor Sir Michael Hintze, and former Conservative Party chairman, Lord Feldman, was also a director.”

The Our Place new town plans can be viewed here https://www.kingswoodsussex.co.uk/about

For information about the protest visit www.bigstand.co.uk and

https://www.change.org/p/horsham-district-council-residents-against-the-adversane-development-plan

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