The Wildlife Trust raise concerns over Centre Parcs Oldhouse Warren Crawley proposal

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Oldhouse Warren

Oldhouse Warren’s Protected Grounds

Center Parcs wants to build a new holiday village at Oldhouse Warren near Crawley, West Sussex. However, The Wildlife Trust, The Woodland Trust, RSPB, CPRE Sussex and the Sussex Ornithological Society believe that this would be a disaster.

Oldhouse Warren is an ancient woodland, part of the wider medieval hunting forest of Worth Forest sitting within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), so they believe this to be the wrong location. Especially as this is habitat with a unique ecosystem of soil organisms, fungi, invertebrates, birds and mammals.

Local and national policy and guidance says this site should not get planning permission: both ancient woodland and AONBs are protected under the National Planning Policy Framework and the Mid Sussex District Plan. The Government pledged at COP26 to end deforestation by 2030, they also enacted the new Environment Bill – which sets a target to halt the UK decline in species abundance.

Issues Raised by The Wildlife Trust

  • Development in ancient woodland is prohibited unless there are “wholly exceptional reasons.” Building on ancient woodland goes directly against national planning policy and all the relevant local plans and policies in Sussex.
  • Building here would damage a protected AONB landscape. Oldhouse Warren forms part of the historic Worth Forest, an ancient woodland landscape within the High Weald AONB.
  • The development would harm the neighbouring SSSI ancient ghyll woodland, a sensitive site that is currently undisturbed
  • Building here goes against the Prime Minister’s commitment to protect 30% of the UK’s land by 2030. This promise is based on the assumption that 26% of land in England is already “protected” by AONBs, National Parks and other designations.
  • Development here is a barrier to nature’s recovery and the creation of a functioning Nature Recovery Network. Oldhouse Warren is located within a Biodiversity Opportunity Area and is part of the wider ancient Worth Forest, which links habitats across Horsham and Mid Sussex districts.
  • Development here will cause a huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions, releasing the carbon stored in ancient, undisturbed soils and felling trees that currently absorb carbon dioxide.

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