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 Current issues

April 2011 

Muggeridge Field

Your ref FR14(11/12)

 

20 October 2011

 

Head of Legal and Democratic Services

West Sussex County Council

County Hall

West Street

Chichester

PO19 1RQ

 

 

Dear Sir

 

Land at Athelstan Way, Horsham West Sussex

 

With reference to your notice under section 122(2A), Local Government Act 1972 in the West Sussex County Times on the 29th September 2011, I am writing to register our objection to the proposal to appropriate land at Athelstan Way from education to planning purposes.

The Horsham Society is one of the largest amenity societies in the south of England with over 1250 members.  The Society's purpose is to watch over the interests of the town, to guard its heritage, to promote good planning and design and to speak up when it believes decisions detrimental to Horsham are being considered.

We consider that the proposed appropriation is wrong in principle and would be seriously detrimental to this sensitive site and the townspeople’s enjoyment of the countryside for informal recreation.

This land has been easily accessible from surrounding fields for many years due to the lack of fencing and used by local residents and others for dog walking and other informal recreation.  More recently it has, de facto, been treated as part of the Chesworth Farm country park as is confirmed in Horsham District Council’s Chesworth Farm Management Plan 2007 (para 7.6).

Furthermore, there is evidence that the field itself, and the surrounding area of Chesworth Farm, is home to nesting Skylarks, a species of high conservation concern.  As you will be aware the County Council has a statutory duty to conserve biodiversity.

 

Our understanding is that in law to make this appropriation the County Council must be able to demonstrate that the purpose is in the interests of the proper planning of the area.   This is most certainly not the case.  Not only has there been no consultation with local people, the District Council is opposed to any development of this site, and the papers prepared by the County Council’s officers make it clear that the proposal is designed in part at least to frustrate local people in their desire to protect this land.

 

We therefore believe the proposal to be wrong, and the process to be contrary to the intentions of the legislation.

 

If the land is no longer required for education purposes the public should be consulted with a view to it being formally rescheduled as public open space in recognition of its current use.

 

 

Yours faithfully

 

John Steele

Secretary, Planning Sub Committee