'It’s simply in the wrong place' - Crawley councillors object to Center Parcs' 553-acre holiday village plans

Crawley councillors have agreed to contact Center Parcs to object to plans for a 553-acre holiday village on the outskirts of the town.
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During a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (October 19), members supported a motion tabled by Kim Jaggard (Con, Maidenbower) which raised concerns about the environmental impact the development at Oldhouse Warren would have on Worth Forest.

Mrs Jaggard said: “The Woodland Trust say that the site is ancient woodland and the holiday village would cause irreversible harm to the ecosystem.

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“Some of the trees are more than 400 years old and they support more threatened species than any other habitat.

Councillors have objected to plans to build a 553-acre Centre Parcs holiday village on the outskirts of Crawley.Councillors have objected to plans to build a 553-acre Centre Parcs holiday village on the outskirts of Crawley.
Councillors have objected to plans to build a 553-acre Centre Parcs holiday village on the outskirts of Crawley.

Woods of the sort at Oldhouse Warren are particularly precious and once they are lost they are irreplaceable.”

She told the meeting that surveys of the site had found that dragonflies, damselflies, bats, glow worms, owls, beetles, night jars, fire crests and woodpeckers were among the many species to call the forest home.

Set in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the ancient woodland also contains veteran trees which are many hundreds of years old.

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The responsibility of deciding whether or not to grant planning permission for the holiday village will fall to Mid Sussex District Council.

As well as writing to Center Parcs, leader Michael Jones will also write to the district council laying out Crawley’s concerns – and councillors were urged to do the same.

There was cross-party support for the motion, with many councillors saying they had no issue with Center Parcs, just with the proposed location.

It was felt that the economic benefits of a new employer offering up to 1,500 jobs was outweighed by the environmental concerns.

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Conservative leader Duncan Crow said: “We’re not trying to be any sort of killjoys but, in terms of the environment, it’s simply in the wrong place. I don’t doubt that Center Parcs do aim to do their best when it comes to trying to limit environmental damage with their complexes.

“But even with the best will in the world, it is impossible for this proposal not to have serious environmental consequences.”

A spokesman for Center Parcs said: “As part of the pre-planning process, we are conducting detailed ecological surveys which will inform our designs and construction environmental management plan.

“At the moment, we haven’t completed this work so we don’t have anything more specific to share, but rest assured that we take our responsibility to the environment and forests extremely seriously.

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“We have more than 30 years’ experience of sensitively managing the woodlands in which our villages are located, carefully nurturing and maintaining the forests to protect and enhance biodiversity.

“Our approach to this development will be a collaborative one, working with the local authority, local community and with all groups that have a specific interest in the site.”