(APRIL FOOL!) Proposals to build a ‘horse town’ in Sussex are to be put to the test in a new community opinion poll launched today. [GO TO POLL – now closed]
Promotional images of this unconventional new town ‘vision’ show pictures of residents riding horses along a pedestrian precinct and ‘horse guard parade’ style bridleways running alongside the roads. The proposals are along similar lines to the equestrian oriented Californian city of Norco – also known as ‘Horse Town USA.’
The London property company, Mayfield Market Towns (MMT) which dreamt up the idea, is no stranger to unusual transport models. In 2013 MMT Director, Lee Newlyn, made headlines when he suggested that golf buggies could be used for a seven mile commute to the railway station.
MMT’s latest ‘vision’ has been met with incredulity and scepticism by local communities – with many suggesting that the ‘strong equestrian focus’ promised by the developers is simply a ‘front.’
The Sussex conservation group, LAMBS has now devised a new opinion poll to give local people an opportunity to judge the ‘horse town’ model for themselves. [GO TO POLL – now closed]
A growing tide of local scepticism appeared to be justified last month when, shortly after exchanging contracts on the purchase of an equestrian property in Mid Sussex, Mr Newlyn wrote a letter to local Councillors claiming the company was now “able to bring forward 500 dwellings quickly on the freehold land.” As MMT owns no other land in the district, Mr Newlyn is believed to have been referring to the newly purchased 47 acre equestrian centre, despite having made assurances to the previous owners that the business would continue at normal.
Still determined to convince local people of their equine intentions, MMT and its partner company, Clarion Housing Group, have formed a new ‘horsey’ sounding company called ‘Horsham and Mid Sussex Equestrian Academy’ (HMSEA). The company lists its business as the ‘raising of horses and other equines.’ However, according to Companies House, its directors are predominantly millionaire property investors, PR executives and land buyers.
“These directors are not the kind of people you would normally associate with the equestrian world,” says a LAMBS spokeswoman. “Peter Freeman is a millionaire urban property developer and Richard White is Director of Land and Planning for MMT’s new partner, Clarion Housing Group.
“Clarion specialises in affordable homes and it is very difficult to find any logical connection between that and riding, which is possibly the most expensive hobby you could choose. I think they would have been better off sticking with the golf buggies!”
Mid Sussex’s MP, Sir Nicholas Soames who, along with MP for South Downs and Arundel, Nick Herbert, has robustly opposed MMT’s various proposals over the past 4 years, tweeted this reaction to the company’s newfound equine pretensions:
“@MayfieldTowns a strong equestrian focus is centered on the only
piece of land you can lay your grubby unwanted hands on #goawaynoonewantsu”
Should a ‘visionary’ new ‘horse town’ ever be built in Sussex, its creators would be faced with another less idyllic problem to overcome. In the late 1880s, Britain’s towns were literally drowning in manure – a state of emergency was declared and the times predicted that; “In 50 years, every street in London will be buried under nine feet of manure.”.
With an average horse producing 37 pounds of feces and 2.4 gallons of urine every day, waste would be a major issue. The PR pictures may look charming but tens of thousands of tonnes of steaming manure is not something that can be simply dug into the roses.
[ GO TO POLL AND JUDGE FOR YOURSELF – now closed]