Mayfield Market Towns has abandoned its plans to build a new settlement centred on farmer, Robert Worlsey’s land between Wineham and Twineham.
For the past four years the London property company has featured detailed images of its proposal at this location – both on its website and in its submissions to Mid Sussex and Horsham District Councils.
However, last week MMT’s new spokeswoman, Deborah Aplin, confirmed to a journalist at the Mid Sussex Times that the company had now abandoned this masterplan.
The move is, without doubt, a direct response to Mr Worsley’s intervention at the Examination of Mid Sussex’s Local Plan in January, when he exposed MMT’s biggest flaw to the Inspector:
“I think every submission they have made has made it very clear where their site is and where the epicentre of it is,” he told the hearing. “As the land owner of the land in that area, I can confirm that the land is not available – it doesn’t have willing land owners there, both in terms of my land and the land belonging to all the farmers and landowners around me.”
MMT claims to have some options on other sites and is apparently in the process of buying a smallholding some miles away, in a completely different location (LAMBS is aware of this location, but is not publishing details for fear of blighting another area). These pockets of land are widely scattered and far too small to accommodate a new village or town. It is also important to remember that the control of land is just a small part of the equation and that, without the support of our local councils, MMT will quickly reach another dead end.
Due all this, MMT has been forced to completely re-brand itself by re-launching its website, which now simply states that, “Mayfields is a proposal for a new market town between Brighton and Crawley.”
MMT revealed its new (orange) image last week, timed to coincide with the government Inspector, Jonathan Bore’s Interim Findings. However, the launch appears to have fallen flat, because, despite the Inspector setting astronomical new housing figures, he has pointedly refused to give MMT what it wanted – an early review. To date, MMT has no land and no plan, so it desperately needs to buy some time in order to formulate a new proposal.
MMT’s high profile Planning Adviser, John Rhodes argued long and hard for an ‘early review’ (within 2 years) throughout the Examination. He repeatedly urged Mr Bore that; in addition to substantially increasing the Council’s housing figures for its own and Crawley’s needs, he should also impose an early review to address a huge shortfall from Brighton.
Mr Bore’s findings have sent shock waves around the District by increasing housing targets from 800 per year to 1026 per year – conceding to the demands of the powerful Mid Sussex Developer Forum (MSDF) which has projects throughout the area. LAMBS strongly opposes the new figures, which have been described by Sir Nicholas Soames as a “completely unreasonable target” which “flies in the face of all the evidence.”
However, referring to Mr Rhodes’ efforts to raise them still higher, Mr Bore’s report stated:
“A commitment to a plan review in two years’ time, advocated by some at the hearings, is too onerous given the scale of the task”
Later this week LAMBS, along with CPRE Sussex and other campaign groups in Mid Sussex will be lending their weight to a new ‘Keep Mid Sussex Green’ campaign, to be launched by The Mid Sussex Times in response to the Inspector’s report. LAMBS Chairman, Geoff Zeidler says it’s time for the whole district to make itself heard:
“If Mid Sussex has to accept all the alleged unmet needs of cities like Brighton and Crawley, as proposed by the Inspector under the Developer’s National Planning Framework, then Mid Sussex will lose its unique character;” he says, “and what is lost, is never re-gained. Mid Sussex’s villages provides the tapestry for Constable’s “Grandest View” from Devil’s Dyke. We need to ensure future generations can see what “rural” means and enjoy it too.”
In last week’s Mid Sussex Times, MMT took out a full page paid advert to announce the results of an ICM housing opinion poll which encouraged people to think of a new town as an alternative to ‘add-ons’ to existing settlements.
This claim is not borne out by MMT’s council submissions, which promote the company as the solution to additional unmet need imported from the coastal areas (so in addition to the council’s existing plan not instead of).
MMT also falsely claims the poll was an ‘independent’ study, however, ICM states that “The questionnaire was designed by ICM Unlimited in collaboration with Mayfields and Meeting Place Communications,” so it has largely been ignored by the press.