Sussex building developments threaten our green gaps

From: David JohnsonThe Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Sussex branch
Part of Goring Gap, Chatsmore FarmPart of Goring Gap, Chatsmore Farm
Part of Goring Gap, Chatsmore Farm

Last week’s letter from J. Baker reminded us that promises to protect our local ‘strategic gaps’ between Southwick, Shoreham and Southwick and in Worthing are currently being threatened by building developments.

Already Adur adjoins Brighton and Hove with no ‘green’ separation and suggests the danger of the local coastal towns to the west merging into some Greater Brighton.

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Green gaps have no status beyond gaps in the section on green belts in the National Planning Policy Framework, and Sussex has no significant green belt protection.

Sussex local authorities chose not to protect their towns when green belts could have been declared.

Unlike around Southampton and in the recent parliamentary publication of A Vision for London’s Green Belt, few councils are pressing for new protections.

So developers are keen to build on green fields, including Persimmon, which wants to build on the 19 hectares of Goring Gap.

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Research from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has already shown that Sussex has the highest level of building development on the supposedly protected as areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

Additionally, there are further developments promised on top-quality agricultural land, and wherever land is not ‘protected’ in Sussex.

Economists now agree building more houses does not lead to competition and lower prices, because developers can manipulate housing supply.

Everywhere in Sussex we have housing out of the reach of most local people and certainly anyone on average incomes.

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We also have a climate emergency that should cause us to review all new building for its contribution to CO2.

So, we all should campaign against building on our green gaps, our precious green fields and countryside rather than on brownfield sites.

Our strategic green gaps must be protected.

We need more trees, better wildlife corridors and more wilding; all new buildings should be carbon neutral and be built to Passivhaus standards now.

Neither you or I can make new gaps, new countryside or ancient woodland, so when they are gone it is truly goodbye.