Last summer Center Parcs announced that they proposed building a new 900-lodge holiday village at Oldhouse Warren, an ancient woodland on the east side of the M23 near Crawley. Ancient woodland is an irreplaceable habitat where trees have grown for at least 500 years and probably for millennia. We also know, from limited but authorised survey work (Oldhouse Warren is closed to public access) that it is a good site for birds. It is also in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and both ancient woodland and AONB’s are highly protected under the planning system. We are, therefore, extremely concerned about these proposals.
The SOS, the Woodland Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust, CPRE-Sussex and RSPB, acting as the Sussex Planning for Nature Group, are working together to oppose this development. Having previously written to Center Parcs we were concerned that their response failed to recognise the grave impact their proposals would have on an irreplaceable habitat in Sussex. We have therefore sent an open letter to Center Parcs asking them to look again at where they are proposing to build their next holiday village and to explain to us why a company that prides itself on its environmental credentials is considering such a damaging development in a highly protected ancient woodland which is also in a highly protected AONB.