Market town plans awash

It has been a wet start to 2016 with severe flooding just three days into the New Year.

Heavy rain at the weekend caused widespread flash floods. By Sunday evening the River Adur had burst its banks and was flowing across the road at depths of up to 40cms at Herrings Bridge in Twineham. Within an hour Mock Bridge at Shermanbury was also impassable.

argus-floods-1argus-floods-2Local communities in this area are used to the flooding – it has been a common occurrence here for centuries. However, even without Mayfields there is growing evidence that the situation is getting progressively worse.

Wet weekend – 4x4s only in Reeds Lane

Photos of these latest floods posted by LAMBS on the Mayfield Protest Facebook page reached more than 40,000 people and inspired comments from many local residents who are concerned, not only about the threat of Mayfields, but also about the increasing speed at which the waters are now rising:

“When I started work for Sussex River Authority in 1974 the fields alongside the west branch of the River Adur at Burgess Hill used to flood whenever there was heavy rainfall,” says David Malkin. “The water would then take several days to reach Mock Bridge at Shermanbury. Then developers built the Folders Lane housing estates and the floodwater ran straight into the Adur and reached Mock Bridge within a few hours! Imagine what damage 10,000 more houses would cause!”

A narrow escape for homes in Twineham village.

This is a view also held by John Donaldson who worked for the National Rivers Authority and then the Environment Agency for more than 35 years.

“Already we are inundated with floods and we can hardly manage the system of water run-off that we’ve got at the present time,” he says. “There’d be even greater flooding without doubt – to land, to property, to road systems and transport – everything.”


Mayfields claimed in yesterday’s Argus that this evidence is “anecdotal” and that “the land would be re-levelled to withstand a one in 1,000 year flood with a complex drainage system if plans went ahead.”

Despite a growing tide of overwhelming evidence Mayfields also claims that flooding in the area is confined to the river channels and that no properties have ever been affected.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service attend yet another flood callout.

However, according to strictly non-anecdotal figures obtained from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service* there has been flooding to properties here every year for the past five years. LAMBS also has hundreds of photographs of the countryside throughout the area including ones of homes which have been devastated by flood water.

“This area, these roads, flood regularly each year,” says Evie Bentley on Facebook. “No one should be tricked into thinking this is a good plan!”

“These roads are where I live,” says another Facebook follower, Giles Welsh. “It is well known as a flood plain and I totally expected this to happen today; just like it will for probably 20 other days this year. Unfortunately greed is a huge driver and the idiots just don’t see or won’t care about the flooding.”

Mayfields new town proposals superimposed on a map of the watercourses. Whoever created this watery picture must, at some point, have stopped and thought “this is nuts!”

Mayfields has now submitted its proposals to Mid Sussex Council in preparation for the Examination of the District Plan this spring. Among these documents in an artist’s impression of the new town proposals superimposed on a map of the watercourses – taking no account of the acres of land also affected by widespread flash flooding. However, even with just the waterways clearly marked on the map surely whoever created this watery picture must, at some point, have stopped and thought “this is nuts!”

Floods along Reeds Lane rose to 40cms on Sunday afternoon.
Floodwater at Mock Bridge.
‘The Argus’ Tuesday, 5th January 2016.
‘Mid Sussex Times’ Monday, 4th January 2016.
‘ITV News’ Monday, 4th January 2016.
‘West Sussex County Times’ Monday, 4th January 2016.

*Freedom of Information Request.



Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

  1. Meg Price

    Flooding along Reed’s lane and the B2116 was the main concern at last night’s monthly Parish Council meeting in Albourne. Not only would a large number of new houses in the area proposed by Mayfield risk being flooded, the knock on effect of concreting over a substantial area of land needs to be considered. The water has to soak away somewhere.

  2. Kay Marshall

    Mayfields state that they would level the ground and provide drainage. Are they stating that the flood water they would be proposing to deal with would disappear OR are they forgetting to mention that by diverting it somewhere else would mean that some other poor home dwellers in other areas would suddenly find that they are flooded. Its a pity they don’t show some intelligence when making their random remarks and have a bit more respect for the residents in these flooded areas who appear to know far more about water tables etc. than the salesmen of Mayfields Massive Towns.

  3. Angie Sparrowhawk

    I was born in Henfield and now live in Cowfold and flooding of the Adur has always been the case. I remember going to school in Steyning in the 1950’s and ’60’s, and there were always floods. Building houses in the area proposed is quite ludicrous – the Adur is a fast flowing river and building on a flood plain in Twine ham and the surrounding area is the most ridiculous plan, and it should never have been considered. No amount of levelling or new pipe systems will stop flooding, the water will not decrease and it has to go somewhere.
    Mayfield Towns should give up there plans now and find somewhere more suitable to build.
    I have yet, also, to hear how this new town will be served. My GP surgery is having problems recruiting staff as housing is far too expensive. The schools are crowded, the roads are not capable of coping with the existing traffic,the police are under resource, Social services are very hard pressed – I am concerned about the local services are going to cope with yet more residents?

  4. Christine Dean

    Surely NO council is going to allow these ludicrous ideas of Mayfields to go on much longer? A flood plain and thousands of houses ? Say no once and for all.

  5. Kenneth McIntosh

    In our area our emergency services need to be adequately resourced to cater for the population they serve. Also the greater part of the population ought to live as close to urban environments which are clear of flooding as is possible to be better attended to in emergencies. Time is an all important consideration if danger to life and well being is to be maintained. Locating a town in a flood plain goes counter to collective wisdom.

    Henfield has a volunteer rapid response team (Henfield Area Rapid Response Team) set up in to tackle cardiac emergencies has enabled the response time to be reduced from 20 minutes to less than five minutes in many cases. This is crucial to enable use defibrillators that can restart a heart before the brain is irreversibly damaged.

    Also Henfield has a retained Fire and Rescue service. Apart from a few hours a week for training sessions and to carry out other pre-arranged duties, retained firefighters only attend the fire station when they have received an emergency call out. For much of the time, a retained fire station is unmanned with each on-call retained fire fighter likely to have another occupation but carrying a pocket alert. It is when this is activated that fire fighters have up to 5 minutes to report to the fire station and mobilise the necessary appliance.

    The evidence is clear that the country roads around Twineham are liable to flooding and it follows that more lives would be at risk if an unprecedented increase in the local population is located anywhere near the water courses in our area.

  6. Christopher Wood

    It becomes clearer and clearer that Lord Taylor of Goss Moor is only interested in lining his own pocket and has no care or concern for anybody who will be affected by such a disastrous development. Sadly, it is yet another example of politician’s arrogance and self interest. It is now suggested that there be a ‘rethink’ in the press, but it seems to me we are dealing with brain dead people who cannot think at all.

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