Torchlit vigil for the countryside

Wineham annual vigil for the countryside (photo by Robin WILSON  RWCS Photographics 2014   : www.rwcs-photographics.com) SUS-141012-124409001
Wineham annual vigil for the countryside (photo by Robin WILSON RWCS Photographics 2014 : www.rwcs-photographics.com) SUS-141012-124409001

The village of Wineham was lit up by torchlight on Monday evening (Dec 8) as local residents staged their annual vigil for the countryside.

The tradition was started last year by LAMBS (Locals Against Mayfield Building Sprawl), which is campaigning against proposals to build a new town on countryside between Henfield and Albourne.

On that occasion 365 torches were lit to show the campaign’s determination to fight every day of the year to protect the rural communities.

This year, locals gathered at the Royal Oak in Wineham before walking up Wineham Lane lighting torches along the route. The stunt was filmed by the BBC’s Inside Out programme for broadcast in the New Year.

Dozens of families braved freezing temperatures to take part, keeping warm around camp fires and enjoying mulled wine and mince pies.

“This is a beautiful, unspoiled piece of true Sussex countryside and no one wants to see it destroyed,” said local resident, Jane Watson. “None of the local councils support Mayfields’ proposal. This would be a ridiculous place to put a new town.

“We are not anti-building, in fact our local parish plans are all proposing a considerable number of new homes - but 10,000 is out of all proportion! A development of that size would be extremely unsustainable and totally unrealistic on this very rural site.”

Last month Mayfield Market Towns presented its new town plan to a government inspector at the examination of Horsham’s District Plan. Mayfields’ proposal is not included in the Horsham Plan and the property company faced opposition from all levels of local government at the hearing.

The two MPs, Sir Nicholas Soames and Nick Herbert were given special permission to speak at the examination and both strongly condemned Mayfields’ proposals.