LAST SUMMER we moved to West Sussex from Kent having lived for 15 years in a converted oast surrounded by orchards, just minutes from the centre of Canterbury.
It was a beautiful spot but gradually, and carelessly, planners were giving the nod to areas of natural beauty and grade A agricultural land being developed with little gain for the local population who argued vehemently against the decisions.
The Manhood Peninsula is a calm and underdeveloped oasis – an absolute gem. We moved here because we loved what we saw.
We were satisfied that local planning laws protect the peninsula with its open views to sea and downs and its prime agricultural land in the centre of the peninsula which specifically bans the building of horticultural glasshouses.
I now read that officers of the Chichester District Council plan to recommend approval of a large area of land in the centre of the peninsula to be changed in designation from agricultural to horticultural allowing the construction of massive glasshouse factories covering 50 acres – after a very large Dutch company has bought the land at agricultural prices and is waiting for the CDC to multiply its investment tenfold simply by changing its designated use. Are we to be taken for fools?
How much other land is this company holding, playing the waiting game?
If this goes ahead it opens the flood gates for all the other horticulture businesses we know have been waiting silently in the wings for just such a decision to be made.
The simple beauty of the Manhood peninsula and the lives of many who visit and live here are being manipulated for economic gain to a few.
Experience shows us that the jobs created by such enterprises tend to be filled by labour brought in to the area.
Even though the big company behind this planning application and its very expensive lawyers will argue otherwise, it is clear that the outcome of this application being successful will disadvantage the residents, visitors, wildlife, road-users, and watchers of the night-skies.
Those who benefit will pocket their sizeable profits and live elsewhere.
To save us all saying afterwards ‘I wish I had realised sooner the seriousness of this proposal’, we must at least take notice.
There is a meeting at East Pallant House on March 30 – we should go or at least make it clear to the decision-makers that this is one glass-house too far.
We must be sure that there is clarity and honesty in decisions that touch us all and ensure that the old ways of nods and winks are definitely a thing of the past.