The Developers hijacking democracy

Meat the Mayfield Team

Villagers in Mid Sussex say that their local democracy is being hijacked by greedy property companies trying to take advantage of a loophole in the new Localism Act (2011). City property company, Mayfield Market Towns, is trying to get Government support for a new town of 10,000 homes on 1200 acres of unspoilt countryside in the area.

“Their tactics are no better than bully boys in the school playground” says Anthony Watts Williams, founder of Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl (LAMBS). [quote style=”boxed” float=”left”]They will say anything, and print anything to try and undermine democracy[/quote] “They will say anything, and print anything to try and undermine democracy. One of their directors (Lord Matthew Taylor) is the Lord who headed up the Government’s restructuring of the planning framework last year, and now the company in which he is a shareholder and paid director, is trying to overturn the very planning process that he helped to put in place.”

Mid Sussex’s green fields are seen to be at risk after the area’s Draft District Plan was challenged by neighbouring coastal authorities, who want Mid Sussex to take their ‘overspill’. In a letter to The Mid Sussex Times (Oct 3), Michael Brown, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), says these authorities are being “egged on by a raft of property developers”.

Rising damp - Mayfield's proposed site isn’t near a railway station and is prone to flooding.
Rising damp – Mayfield’s proposed site isn’t near a railway station and is prone to flooding?

See the article in[button link=”http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/mayfield-market-towns-wants-build-2682781″ size=”large” style=”info” bg_color=”#ffffff” text=”dark” window=”yes”]Mirror News[/button]by Andrew Penman.
Their proposed site isn’t near a railway station and is prone to flooding.“At stake here is local democracy,” he says. “One particularly disturbing aspect of this new development is the way in which property developers have wormed their way into the process. The duty of Councils to co-operate with each other over housing is a new statutory duty introduced via the Localism Act in 2011. It only applies as between public authorities. Yet MSDC’s Planning Inspector will take evidence from no fewer than 12 property companies.”

[quote style=”boxed” float=”left”]they are trying very hard to take the decision process out of the hands of our elected councils.[/quote] Angry villagers will be out in force on Wednesday (Oct 16th) to symbolically ‘wrap’ the area at risk in a huge, seven mile yellow ribbon. This will be followed by what is expected to be a packed Open Meeting at Adastra Hall, Hassocks at 7.30pm on Friday (Oct 18th).

Many local people only learned about the proposals when Mayfield Market Towns published a map of the plans on their web site. Sally Aslett from Twineham says she was horrified that no one in the area had been consulted;

“You can’t just have a group of city people up in London suddenly deciding… ‘Oh, there’s a good area, let’s build a town there.’ We live here! These homes are not just bricks and mortar, we are emotionally attached to them; our children have grown up here. It’s immoral!”

Mayfield Market Towns wants to build the new town on one of three sites in the area. None of these sites has access to a rail link and all cover hundreds of acres of green fields, woodlands, marshlands and river. Twineham and Wineham sit very close to the River Adur and are prone to flooding in the winter… both villages are regularly cut off due to heavy rainfall.

“Not many people live here for a reason,” says Jane Watson from Twineham, “Much of it is a flood plain… it’s perfect for wildlife but not suitable at all for houses. Our local plan has been hijacked by these developers… they are trying very hard to take the decision process out of the hands of our elected councils. I can’t believe there isn’t a law against it!”

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