Center Parcs and Oldhouse Warren
In summer 2021, Center Parcs announced they would be progressing plans for a new holiday village at Oldhouse Warren, an ancient woodland near Crawley in West Sussex. Ancient woodland is an irreplaceable habitat that is highly protected, so we are extremely concerned about these proposals and have been urging Center Parcs to reconsider and look for an alternative, more suitable location.
We wrote to the Center Parcs CEO in October 2021 expressing our concerns, but only received a short response, acknowledging receipt of our letter but saying nothing of the content. This is thoroughly disappointing given that Center Parcs claim they are committed to maintaining and enhancing wildlife and wild habitats.
Why is Oldhouse Warren is the wrong location for Center Parcs in Sussex?
- The proposed site at Oldhouse Warren is entirely ancient woodland, an irreplaceable habitat that has been around for centuries and potentially millennia. It must be protected, not destroyed.
- 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 government’s own definition of an AONB is a “fine landscape…whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so outstanding that it is in the nation’s interest to safeguard them.”
- The development would harm the neighbouring SSSI ancient ghyll woodland, a sensitive site that is currently undisturbed.
- Building here goes directly against the Prime Minister’s commitment to protect 30% of the UK’s land by 2030. This promise is based on the flawed assumption that 26% of land in England is already “protected” by AONBs, National Parks and other designations. Oldhouse Warren sits within the High Weald AONB and will be destroyed by the Center Parcs proposal, not protected.
- 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 – an area identified as presenting the best opportunity for enhancing biodiversity - 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. This is clearly not compatible with our legally binding Net Zero targets or the government’s pledges in the recently-published England Trees Action Plan.
How you can help
1. Please help us by contacting Center Parcs and asking them to look for an alternative location.
You can email Center Parcs at: [email protected]
2. Contact the local MPs and the leader of Mid Sussex District Council
We are asking Center Parcs to reconsider and look for another, less sensitive location - but if they pursue their current plans, development of Oldhouse Warren must be opposed and rejected by the relevant authorities.
Please contact the Leader of Mid Sussex District Council – Jonathan Ash-Edwards and the relevant MPs for the area – Jeremy Quinn, Mims Davies and Henry Smith
If you live in Mid Sussex, you can also contact your local councillors.