Don't Urbanise Hamsey

Why we object

There are many reasons why a 78 hectare (193 acre) greenfield site between the small rural settlements of Cooksbridge and Hamsey, on the very edge of the South Downs National Park, is no place to build 1,100 new houses. We have included ten of those reasons below. You may have many more. Please make it clear to Lewes District Council that for all of these reasons, this site has no place in the Lewes District Local Plan. 

  1. This scheme would completely overwhelm the very limited infrastructure of the small local village of Cooksbridge, and the rural hamlets  of Hamsey and Offham.  It would merge three (possibly four) distinct settlements, creating an urban sprawl – and increasing their combined population by five or six-fold. The area would be impacted beyond recognition. 
  2. Building 1,100 homes on an isolated, greenfield site would create 1,100 new, car dependent households, promoting unsustainable travel behaviour. All the estimated 2,000+ residents would be reliant on driving to Lewes and other established settlements to access all services. 
  3. This would add significantly to existing capacity and safety issues on the A275, including at Cooksbridge level-crossing, outside local schools, at the Lewes prison junction and beyond. 
  4. Any promotion of Cooksbridge’s rural train station, is a distraction. It provides a very limited service and any expansion or increased frequency would be virtually impossible given limitations in capacity on the network and the gridlock across the A275 at the Cooksbridge level-crossing every time a train passes. Lewes District Council’s own data shows that just 2.3% of the population of the District travel to work by train.  
  5. The site borders the South Downs National Park (SDNP) to the south, the east and the west. This development would have a significant and negative impact on the setting of the SDNP an area of land with the highest protection in UK planning law.  Views from and into the National Park would be harmed as well as from the South Downs Way and the local network of footpaths and bridleways. It would bring increased noise and air pollution, loss of wildlife and ‘dark skies’ impact in the SDNP, which is a Dark Skies Reserve and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
  6. The proposed development would destroy an area rich with established hedgerows, open fields, stunning veteran oaks and other natural habitats for wildlife including mammals, reptiles and birds (including skylarks and other species on the BTO’s red list). 
  7. It would devastate the character of an area that represents everything that is cherished about the South Downs and the Sussex Low Weald landscape. An area that is loved and well-used, including by walkers and cyclists, for its unspoilt and historic rural character, access to the countryside, dispersed small settlements connected by narrow lanes & droveways and its lack of intrusive urban features.  
  8. The proposals would result in the loss of nearly 200 acres of productive farmland that is integral to the local economy, to food production and to the heritage and the character of Hamsey Parish.  
  9. Increased water run-off and drainage issues would add to existing surface water flooding in local lanes and in the river valley to the south, putting further pressure on the water quality of the Ouse, which already falls short of national standards.  
  10. Recent ONS data shows a significant decline in population growth in Lewes District. Further, government and Lewes District Council policy make it clear that housing development should be focussed on where the need arises – being in sustainable locations with good access to services and employment, and on brownfield sites. The Hamsey site provides none of those things and would just swallow up virgin countryside. It is not necessary and it is not wanted. Yet it is still being considered by Lewes District Council as ‘potentially developable’. The only winners would be the commercial interests of the developers and the landowner, while the harm to this beautiful location would be irreversible.