They hid the damage to historic Binsted Park
Binsted Park is a ‘pocket park’ within Binsted Woods, a landscaped park created in about 1800 to be viewed from Binsted House. Option 5A goes through Binsted Park from one side to the other and destroys it.
This fact was hidden in the 2017 consultation by an extraordinary catalogue of errors.
- A table stated Binsted Park was outside the scheme.
- A photograph captioned ‘Binsted Park’ was of a road elsewhere.
- The label ‘Binsted Park’ was shown on maps over woodland on Tortington Common.
- The name ‘Binsted Park Ancient Woodland’ was invented and used many times to describe something else.
- Part of the woodland surrounding Binsted Park was left out on many maps.
Highways England promised to provide ‘relevant corrections’ in their 2019 re-consultation. But since their witness in the Judicial Review case tried to defend these errors, they may not consider any of them to be ‘relevant’. Exactly the same misinformation may be produced in the 2019 consultation.
This is the third blog highlighting Highways England's main errors and their failure to acknowledge and correct them. How does one make Highways England admit the truth?
This is the real Binsted Park
John Mills, County Archaeologist, says Binsted Park is the kind of park described in Pride and Prejudice (1813) at Longbourn – a ‘small park’, as remarked by the snobbish Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
Binsted Park is not a ‘scheduled monument’ but is listed by the Historic Environment Record (HER) as a ‘Historic Parkscape’.
Binsted House has been rebuilt, and elements of the Park remain – its curved shape; its ha-ha, a wall-faced bank to keep sheep from the house; one of its three ornamental ponds; and several large isolated trees, selected from woodland when it was made.
Being completely surrounded by Binsted Woods, the Park is a haven for wildlife. A fox suns itself on the woodpile of one of the three houses there. A barn owl hunts over it. A footpath across the top, and a north-south track, give good public access. Bicyclists stop to listen to the birdsong.
If you make a request to the Historic Environment Record for monuments in Binsted and Tortington you get this map which shows Binsted Park quite clearly and labels it ‘Historic parkscape’:
This is Highways England’s 2017 photograph wrongly purporting to show "Binsted Park"
In the papers prepared for the court case, instead of acknowledging the truth, Highways England made this feeble attempt to defend their 2017 errors:
- They said the name ‘Binsted Park Ancient Woodland’ was used incorrectly rather than ‘Binsted Wood Complex Local Wildlife Site’. Not very helpful to anyone wanting to know where or what Binsted Park was.
- They said the wrongly captioned photo correctly showed the location of a wrongly placed label – irrelevant.
- They also introduced another error. They said the entry on the HER database indicates that the park is no longer present. According to John Mills, the database does not contain these words.
Binsted Park is within the South Downs National Park. Highways England have a duty to respect its Purposes and Special Qualities – that includes properly evaluating the area’s heritage. They did not do their job.
Can Highways England tell the truth in 2019?
Previous blogs in this series: