“New Brighton Park-and-Ride could come to Albourne” – Or at least that is what the local papers are saying. But the same papers also claim that Albourne is just “four miles” from Brighton, so it is clear that this story may have some very dubious origins!
The news has been met with astonishment by local villagers in Albourne and nearby Hurstpierpoint who say the scheme is “absolutely ludicrous.”
“The idea is madness,” said one local resident. “It can take an age to get down to Brighton from here! It is nine miles from my house to the Brighton Centre and there is no quick way by road – on some days the traffic is backed-up for miles. There is no bus lane and no short cuts, so passengers would just be sitting on the buses for hours – it would be much quicker to take a train from Hassocks.”
Successful Park and Ride schemes like those operating in Oxford and Winchester are all located within four miles of the city centre. So, why would Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance be turning its back on these fine working examples and looking at a site nearly 10 miles away from the city centre? On the face of it there is no logical explanation… or is there?
Could Mayfield Market Towns have a hand is this “madness”? Here is the evidence:
Mayfields has always had strong connections with Brighton. Founding Director, Lee Newlyn may now live in Wiltshire, but he was Sussex based for many years and still spends a great deal of time in Brighton – often appearing at seminars and press interviews in the city.
The proposed new Park and Ride on the Q Leisure site in Albourne is just two miles south of the almost identical Park and Ride originally proposed by Mayfields at Hickstead. Discussions, which the papers say “have continued for more than a year,” would have begun at about the time that Mayfields was forced to give up its Hickstead plan.
The Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) which appears to be the source of the new Park and Ride story, features heavily in Mayfields’ various submissions to local councils:
Mayfields “would contribute to the 100,000 jobs required by the Coast to Capital LEP,” the company stated in its Representations to Crawley Borough Council last year. “There is significant support for the Mayfields employment offer from the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership as witnessed by their representations to the HDPF,” continues the same document.
At the examination of Horsham’s Modified Plan this summer it became clear that Mayfields has come to see Brighton as its ‘trump card’. The City’s “predicted housing requirement” has, thanks in no small part to relentless pressure from companies like Mayfields, now reached an impossibly large figure. This high prediction is based solely on a study carried out by London Property Consultants, GL Hearn – a company which, by a cruel twist of fate, also carried out the local council commissioned, ‘New Market Town Study 2010’, which inspired Mr Newlyn to set up Mayfield Market Towns!
This predicted housing figure would increase the size of Brighton and Hove by a massive 25% and is being challenged by many from both within and outside the city. However Mayfields is rubbing its hands with glee, because this ‘unmet housing need’ enables the company to challenge neighbouring councils like Mid Sussex and Horsham to accommodate some of this shortfall. Then, when they are unable to do so, Mayfields will step in to offer its new town as a solution “just over the Downs” – failing to point out that it is in fact an unsuitable, unsustainable, unsupported site, a good 10 miles “over the Downs”!
Speaking at July’s Horsham Hearing, Mayfields’ planning expert and former government NPPF Advisor, John Rhodes said:
“Tens of thousands of homes identified in the evidence and the plans of adjacent authorities will be unmet.” He then directed the Inspector to look at Brighton’s Modified Plan which he said was “seeking a commitment from neighbouring authorities to participate,” and urged him to “send a clear message to each of these authorities to get on with working together.”
Mr Rhodes was one of four members of the government’s advisory group which created the NPPF reforms which are now planning law. In 2011 he wrote in the Guardian:
“It is silly to assert that the draft NPPF will provide developers a licence to build ‘anything wherever they wanted to’. The National Trust is saying the reforms will lead to ‘unchecked and damaging development’ spoiling the countryside, backed by the Telegraph’s campaign against “the threat of uncontrolled development.Those making that assertion have not read the document. The reforms retain planning authorities’ local plans at the heart of the system.”
His words now seem at best ironic… or at worst hauntingly insincere.
So, does Mayfields’ have a hand in the new proposals for a Park and Ride at Albourne, 10 miles from the city it would serve?
LAMBS has no documentary proof that it does, but this scheme has all the usual hallmarks of a company which appears to be very comfortable abusing the planning process to promote wildly illogical proposals. It is exactly the sort of scheme Mayfields would support… all profit and no logic!