Government urged to halt ‘reckless development’ of Sussex countryside

A new call has gone out to the Government to halt the ‘reckless development’ of the Sussex countryside.

Members of the campaign group CPRE are calling for land in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty - such as those in Pease Pottage and Horsham - to be protected.

It follows a report out today from the CPRE - the Campaign to Protect Rural England - which found that pressure for housing development in Sussex is ‘particularly high.’

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It says that the amount of greenfield land in England’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty that will be built on has more than doubled since 2012.

The Pease Pottage development within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

And, it says, such development is ‘land hungry’ and is not solving the affordable housing crisis.

In the last four years alone, planning permissions to build over 900 homes in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty have been granted.

A spokesman said: “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are some of our most precious landscapes, which many people would expect to mean that they are safe from being built on.

“But even though these areas have the strongest protections available in planning law, they are falling foul to an increasing amount of rapid and reckless housing development.”

The report cites a 600-house development in Pease Pottage in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as an example. It was approved by Mid Sussex District Council, despite arguments that the development did not meet local need and would compromise the landscape.

Meanwhile, proposals to build 473 houses on farmland within the AONB off Crawley Road, Roffey. were turned down by Horsham District Council but now developers are appealing against the decision.

Horsham campaign group Keep Our Green Spaces - KOGS - was formed in February last year to fight for this green space, which is described as ‘loved and enjoyed by so many’ and “An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where we can walk to from our homes; an area which is good for the soul, families to play, animals to enjoy and memories to be made.

“These fields aren’t just something we glance at when driving our car. They are a hub for our community, from residents, dog walkers, horse riders, photographers, nature enthusiasts and ramblers.”

CPRE Sussex chairmaan Dan Osborn said: “We are losing some of our most valuable green spaces and food land at a time when the nature and climate emergencies should be driving a different approach.

“Not only are we concreting over some of our most beautiful landscapes, new developments are not creating the affordable homes we want and need.

“The Government must toughen up national planning policy so that we get a better outcome for people and nature. It says it favours beauty – it needs to act accordingly; not betray it.”