Villagers turn out to oppose housing

VILLAGERS turned out to have their say about the prospect of hundreds of new homes in Barnham.

They went along to the first public consultation sessions held by Barnham and Eastergate parish councils about the creation of their neighbourhood plan.

Those who turned out to last Saturday’s opener at Barnham village hall were strongly opposed to the further major housing development which could engulf their village.

Barnham and Eastergate will be expected to take 100 homes up to 2015 if the plan is approved, as well as any large-scale scheme such as the ‘Garden City’ of some 2,000 homes near the villages.

But they already have hundreds of dwellings in the pipeline. Planning permission has been granted for 268 and another 150 are subject to appeal.

There is also the potential for another 423 to 723 homes.

Steven Rawlins, 50, of Lime Avenue, Westergate, said: “I don’t want to see any large-scale development in Barnham, or Westergate, Eastergate and Aldingbourne.

“The infrastructure is already strained – the police, schools, doctors – as it is.

“I would like to see better trains and cheaper public transport and a better bus service so people can leave their cars behind.”

Margaret Flynn, 76, of Orchard Way, Barnham, said: “The traffic is my main concern. The village is not wide enough to take any more houses when you consider there will be two cars for each house.”

Her neighbour, Kathleen Whitby, 66, said she was worried about The Triangle of land between Lake Lane and Barnham Lane being built upon.

“That area is an important lung for the countryside,” she said. “But all of this area is important. We are in the south, we have the best climate and grade one agricultural land.”

Carol Phillips, 55, of Lake Lane, said: “Any development has to come with work on drainage because flooding is such a big problem in the area. It happens every year now to some degree and not just the very wet years.”

Some 200 people attended the event and the one on Sunday at Eastergate Parish Hall.

The results will be used to compile the plan to help defend the villages from developer-led housing schemes for 15 years.

The draft plan should be put to residents in a poll next May for their agreement. Gerry Reeves, a committee member of the plan’s working group, said: “The government has decided housing needs to be built for people who want to live in the area. That seems unsatisfactory because we have enough housing planned for local people.”