ARUNDEL’S MP has been ‘taken aback’ by plans to build 75 log cabins in Houghton Forest, branding the proposal ‘inappropriate’.
Nick Herbert raised his concern of the project, by Forest Holidays, after meeting worried residents in Madehurst this month.
“Building 75 cabins on such a large site in the national park will transform this natural woodland to become a suburban-style theme park.”Nick Herbert, Arundel and South Downs MP
The scheme, which has not yet been formally submitted to the South Downs National Park Authority, could see a 77 acre holiday park built in the wood, north of Slindon.
Residents fear this will cause a sizeable increase in traffic and could potentially ruin the look of the woods – something which Forest Holidays strongly denies.
Mr Herbert said: “I was taken aback when I saw the size of the area which would be affected by this plan. Building 75 cabins on such a large site in the national park will transform this natural woodland to become a suburban-style theme park.
“I appreciate that one of the park’s objectives is to provide recreation, but their over-riding duty is to conserve the environment, and the traffic associated with the cabins will undermine the peaceful recreation which people already enjoy on the footpaths and tracks in this beautiful forest.
“It is an inappropriate, large-scale development for the South Downs which has been protected for good reason, and I hope the park authority will reject it.”
The site could create 65 new jobs, Forest Holidays claim. A spokeswoman said all cabins would be sensitively built, in line with existing schemes, and would be raised from the forest floor to avoid excessive ground disturbance.
There would be no Tarmac on site and all homes would utilise renewable energy, she said, adding specialist equipment would be used to build the cabins between trees, instead of having to cut large swathes of the forest away for construction.
“We were surprised at Nick Herbert’s comments as he has not approached ourselves or The Forestry Commission to get a full picture of the many benefits that our cabin sites bring,” she said. “We would like to stress we work hard to build strong relationships and bring many recreational and economic benefits to local areas and put the well-being of the forest, its wildlife and visitors at the heart of everything that we do.”
Forest Holidays has nine cabin sites across England and Scotland, four being in national parks.