Loxwood clay pit plan unanimously refused

Plans to build a clay quarry and construction materials recycling plant in Loxwood have been refused by West Sussex County Council.

Protesters gathered outside County Hall, Chichester, on Wednesday (May 18) to oppose the application from Loxwood Clay Pits Ltd, which they said would be ‘devastating’.

Packed into the public gallery during a meeting of the planning & rights of way committee, they applauded enthusiastically when the application received an unanimous thumbs-down.

The plans involved extracting 375,000 tonnes of clay from the site in Pallinghurst Woods over a 30-year period.

Campaigners against the Loxwood Clay Pit plans outside County Hall

They also proposed a phased restoration of the six-hectare clay pit using inert waste while the recycling facility would process 25,000 tonnes of inert construction, demolition and excavation waste per year.

The application did not sit well with committee members.

They raised concerns about the impact on wildlife, the number of HGVs that would take to the road each day, and whether there was even a need for a clay quarry.

Nigel Danhash, of Loxwood Claypits Ltd, said the woodland had been owned by his family for 30 years.

He told the meeting the company intended to produce handmade bricks at another location in due course – an idea that would not be viable without the clay supply.

The company had asked for the planning report to be withdrawn, saying the application had not been dealt with fairly by the council.

A letter from agent Chris Williamson cited ‘factual inaccuracies, misleading statements and conclusions’ and accused officers of failing to reply to emails.

While some parts of the report were amended, Michael Elkington, head of planning services, said due process had been be followed and all relevant information considered by officers.

Committee chairman Richard Burrett said: “If I look at this as somebody who has visited that area and seen part of the site and heard what’s been said by those people who use the site, I would find it impossible to support a recommendation to destroy what’s there.”

Afterwards, Mr Williamson spoke about launching an appeal and taking the decision to a judicial review.

But Fiona Wallace, of community action group Stop The Claypit, said the council had reached the correct decision and the planning team had done ‘a very thorough job’.