The Old Grange site - 2018
This is a copy of an email sent on 30 August 2018 to local councillors Steve Morley and Gordon McAra:
"On 27 August we shared a link to a site conducting a poll on options for the development of the derelict site once occupied by the old Grange Centre. Respondents were asked to choose between a care home, for which an offer had been made; or retail development in the future, for which no satisfactory offer had been received. Although the poll hasn't reached it's closing date, it would appear that the support for a care home is negligible.
We live in a democracy, whereby we elect representatives to make decisions in our best interests. We cannot make decisions 'in the community'. We are entitled to expect that our elected representatives have taken the trouble to ascertain the wishes of the people before making decisions. Sadly, this is often not the case.
Since the publication of the SDNP Local Plan The Midhurst Society has on many occasions sought the views of its members and Facebook followers. Overwhelmingly and consistently they cite affordable starter homes as top priority. It is disappointing, then, that Chichester DC should want to accept the highest bid for the Grange site, which happens to be for a Care Home. It would appear that they haven't even asked the views of Midhurst Town Council.
The SDNP Local Plan Pre-submission document identified the area adjacent to The Grange Centre [Chapter 7.164 (Page 156) and Chapter 7.168 (Page 157)] as suitable for a medium-sized supermarket. The Midhurst Society spent many hours analysing this document and responding accordingly. If the master plan is ignored without further consultation democracy has been devalued.
We believe that community organisations such as The Midhurst Society have an important role in seeking public views and communicating rationally and responsibly with the appropriate bodies. We urge you to continue to make your views known on sites such as this and/or to your councillor and/or MP."
Both councillors said they had not been consulted and were opposed to the idea of a Care Home on this site.
On 3 September 2018 we sent an email to Tony Dignum, Chichester DC, copied to Steve Morley and Gordon McAra
A copy of the email can be seen here email to CDC
On 8 September we submitted a letter to the Chichester Observer. The text can be seen here Letter to Chi Observer
The Old Grange site - 2017
Letter submitted to the Midhurst & Petworth Observer on 1 July 2017:
"We fully support the aims of the Midhurst Community Land Trust in tackling the shortage of affordable housing in the area. Whether the Waitrose site should be used is a moot point; we also recognise the benefits another supermarket would bring to the town. However, the site has been an eye-sore for too long, and whilst these future possibilities are being explored some effort could be made to improve its appearance and even put it to good use. We would like to propose that the Council takes down the ugly hoardings and grasses the site. It would not cost a great deal and would be easily reversible if and when a decision is finally made. The Midhurst Society would be prepared to fund the cost of three seats for the quiet enjoyment of residents and visitors."
"Officers at CDC understand how much better the site could look however they are very aware that during this period of austerity and subsequent cut backs, the use of funds on such a short term project could well be conceived as frivolous by some residents.
Further, and more strongly, they feel that they are so far in to the marketing of the site that these alterations would confuse the issue.
It would be difficult to justify pursuing funds for permanent improvements across the way at South Pond while money is spent on temporary facelifts on the other side of the car park. While the Town Council may wish to join The Society in their endeavours to improve the site, they too have other budgetary restrictions.
Thank to The Midhurst Society for their concerns about the town; more residents could share your passion. Please do not be put off by this outcome and continue to submit further ideas in the future; no doubt there will be other struggles along the way."
A planning application was made in June 2018 for the demolition of existing B1(c) industrial building with ancillary offices and erection of 16 No. retirement (over 55s) units with associated works.
This building (also known as the old Frazer-Nash building) has been empty for a number of years and the site has become an eyesore. The artist's impression of the new building is a marked improvement, and we therefore offered our support of the application with a written submission to the SDNPA.
We published our support on our Facebook page and received lots of comments along the lines of: there are already too many houses for over-55s and not enough affordable homes for younger people.
Nevertheless, we still feel that the proposal is good for Midhurst.
Artist's Impression, Letter to SDNPA
Former Brickworks, Bepton Road:
The SDNP Local Plan Pre-submission document had this to say:
The West Sussex County Council Depot and former Brickworks site is allocated for a residential-led development (class C3 use). A masterplan for the whole site should be submitted as part of any Outline or Full planning application. Development for between approximately 65 to 90 dwellings will be permitted. Development for other complementary uses will be permitted where such uses are justified through the whole-site masterplan, and are shown to meet a local need. Planning permission will not be granted for any proposals which prejudice the whole of the site being bought forward for development. The National Park Authority will prepare a Development Brief to assist the delivery of the site.
Detailed proposals that are in broad conformity with the Development Brief and that meet the following site specific development requirements will be permitted:
a) Deliver an ecosystem services-led solution to mitigate the sensitive interface with Midhurst Common, provide positive enhancements to wildlife habitats within and surrounding the site, and contribute to the aims of the Stedham, Iping, Woolbeding Cresence Biodiversity Opportunity Area;
b) To demonstrate that there would be no likely significant effect on the Singleton and Cocking Tunnels Special Area of Conservation;
c) Provide wildlife corridors within the site as part of a site-specific Wildlife Management and Enhancement Plan; d) Provide high-quality pedestrian links through the site linking into Midhurst Common and hence the long distance Serpent Trail;
e) Retain, or relocate to an appropriate location to be approved by the Authority, the Household Recycling Facility ensuring an equivalent standard and capacity of provision;
f) Safeguard a suitable vehicular access route through the Depot site to allow for vehicular access to the former Brickworks site direct from Bepton Road;
g) Provide a pedestrian / cycle / emergency vehicle access to the former Brickworks site from Station Road;
h) Provide suitable on-site surface water drainage and;
i) The location of new housing and access roads to have regard to localised areas of potential surface water flood risk.
We responded to the Local Plan in general and also with regard to specific proposals. This is our written submission to the SDNPA concerning the Brickworks site. Submission to SDNPA
Holmbush Caravan Site
The SDNP Local Plan Pre-submission document identifies the fromer Holmbush Caravan Park, Midhurst as suitable for the development of 50 to 70 residential dwellings (class C3 use). Planning permission will not be granted for any other uses. The National Park Authority will prepare a Development Brief to assist the delivery of the site. Detailed proposals that are in broad conformity with the Development Brief and that meet the following site specific development requirements will be permitted:
a) To provide positive enhancements to the treescape, waterbodies, wildlife corridors and habitats within the site; b) To demonstrate that there would be no likely significant effect on the Singleton and Cocking Tunnels Special Area of Conservation;
c) Built development to be located sequentially only within those parts of the site outside Fluvial Flood Zones 2 and 3 as defined by the Environment Agency;
d) Floor levels of habitable areas, where appropriate and proven to be necessary, to be designed to take into account flood risk and climate change;
e) Safe vehicular and pedestrian emergency access and egress should be provided during flooding;
f) Incorporation of suitable site boundary treatments;
g) Provision of pedestrian routes through the site linking into adjacent open spaces; and
h) Retention and improvement of, where necessary, the existing vehicular access.
We responded to the Local Plan in general and also with regard to specific proposals. This is our written submission to the SDNPA concerning the Caravan site. Submission to SDNPA
The proposed expansion of primary and secondary schools in West Sussex from September 2019
The proposed expansion of primary and secondary schools in West Sussex
from September 2019
Comments from The Midhurst Society
It is reassuring to know that WSCC is considering evidence relating to further growth in the number of children likely to be making use of state-funded school places and looking at how an increase in demand for these can best be accommodated. Forward planning of this nature is never wasted and is to be commended. We would, however, question the initial consultation window of just four weeks - the shortest time legally permitted - and why, with proposals having potentially far-reaching effects, proper public consultation meetings have not been organised for each of the areas involved. We are aware that these may well happen, depending on the response from a limited number of the public, but would argue that some proposals deserve more consideration than others in this respect because of the possible implications of their implementation.... Sue Edwards (Chair)
View full letter
Minerals & Soft Sand:
On 22 January 2018 in response to the publication of the Schedule of Proposed Modifications to the West Sussex Joint Minerals Local Plan (which we understand now covers the extraction of soft sand) we submitted this Representation to WSCC.
On 11 November 2017 we submitted the following letter to the Midhurst & Petworth Observer.
There was disturbing news in last week's Midhurst and Petworth Observer, suggesting that the Government Planning Inspector will remove the extraction of soft sand from the Joint Minerals Plan. As the SDNP Local Plan (in its current draft form) specifically excludes minerals and waste, this would seem to leave the National Park without protection from large-scale commercial quarrying. Not only would this cause distress for the near neighbours of such quarries (in West Lavington, for example) but communities across a broad area (in Midhurst, for example) would suffer daily from the noise, pollution, road damage and congestion caused by quarry traffic.
We urge the SDNPA to follow its own Strategic Policy SD34 on sustaining the local economy (Local Plan – Pre-submission document) which seeks to “promote and protect local businesses without compromising the purposes of the National Park”. The primary purpose as stated in the Local Plan is: “to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area”. Further, we suggest that they apply Section 7.149 when considering specific proposals for sand extraction: “Robust evidence will need to be submitted and approved by the Authority that there will be no adverse effect on the landscape and other special qualities through traffic, noise or pollution. Advice on these matters will be sought from other statutory bodies, particularly the county councils and Highways England on the amount and type of traffic generation and the impact on the National Park’s rural roads.”
This is an opportunity for the SDNPA to demonstrate that it can resist commercial pressures and if necessary stand up to Central Government.
The Midhurst Society
SDNP Local Plan
"From rolling hills to bustling market towns, the South Downs National Park’s landscapes cover 1,600km2 of breath-taking views and hidden gems. Discover the white cliffs of Seven Sisters, rolling farmland, ancient woodland and lowland heaths or enjoy our ‘picture perfect’ villages, traditional country pubs or flourishing vineyards. Let the South Downs National Park subtly seduce you."
Following the creation of the Park, after many years of campaiging, the newly-established SDNPA devoted considerable time and effort into drawing up a plan for the future. The SDNP Local Plan Pre-Submission document was issued in September 2017. It was ambitious, seeking to define the ways in which landscape and heritage could be protected without needlessly restricting the natural evolution of towns and villages.
We felt it was our responsibility to comment in detail on this Plan, and our response can be found here Response to Local Plan
The Parish of Stedham with Iping prepared their own Neighbourhood Plan, to be incorporated into the Local Plan. We also commented on this document, and our response can be found here Response to Stedham with Iping Neighbourhood Plan
Extension to the Midhurst Conservation Area
The Society has submitted comments on the proposals to extend the existing conservation area in the town centre. We raised concerns about the appropriateness of some areas such as in Bepton Road and the area around the Wharf. Although the Wharf area is of historical significance and merits some protection on that basis (the bridge is already a listed building through the efforts of the Society) the buildings in Wharf Road are mostly industrial, which may not be appropriate for a conservation area. Our full comments are available on request.
If you have a view on any of these items, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org