MP backs fight to halt ‘concreting over green fields’ in small South Downs village

A campaigning MP is backing local councillors fighting to halt development plans which would increase the size of a small South Downs village by 55 per cent.

Welbeck Land are seeking planning approval from Chichester District Council to build 70 new homes on a 13-acre former agricultural site in Kirdford - a rural ‘Dark Skies’ area with a small village shop and two pubs.

Kirdford Parish Council says there are already 54 new houses being built on land at Chapel Field on Plaistow Road and, if the 70 new homes are built south of Townfield in Kirdford, it would ‘see our village grow by 55 per cent.’

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Ward councillor Gareth Evans said: “I am outraged at this unsustainable proposal at a site which was previously full of wildlife.

Councillor Gareth Evans is among those opposed to the development

“By anyone’s assessment, a 55 per cent growth is unsustainable and unnecessary.

“Government policy on where new housing growth should be focused is clear and does not include concreting over agricultural fields and forcing the rapid growth of small rural communities at an unsustainable pace without the infrastructure in place.

“It would be a travesty and national embarrassment if this was supported by Chichester District Council. I will continue to work non-stop to support

the parish council in objecting to this proposal.

“We cannot keep exposing our rural communities to this level of attack by developers. Enough is enough.”

Fellow ward councillor Janet Duncton added: “Kirdford has received more than its fair share of housing allocation, particularly for its size and rural setting.”

The community fight has won the support of Arundel and South Downs MP Andrew Griffith who recently forced a government rethink on housing numbers after coining the phrase “mutant algorithm.”

He said: “This is an entirely inappropriate proposal for the small rural village of Kirdford with significant infrastructure challenges.

“Kirdford’s distinctive rural character and dark skies status must be protected.

“This scale of development is unsustainable, going against their Neighbourhood Plan, and should not be forced on the village.”