Concerns about “wholly inappropriate” plans to build a 10,000- home town have been raised in the House of Commons.
Developers behind Mayfield Market Towns want to build on 800 hectares of agricultural land near Burgess Hill.
The multi-million-pound project would house up to 30,000 people on a site between Henfield and Sayers Common.
The town would include up to five new primary schools, an academy, and a retail high street, and developers claim that it could also help alleviate Brighton and Hove’s housing demand.
But speaking at a House of Commons debate about the project on Tuesday, Nicholas Soames, Conservative MP for Mid Sussex, said the project would “destroy beautiful countryside and valuable agricultural land”.
He said: “Its proponents call the putative new settlement a ‘market town’. That is arrant nonsense, since there would be minimal local employment.
“It would, as the excellent Sussex branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England observed, be a com- muter town, since almost all its residents would in fact travel to other areas for work.
“The proposal is totally and wholly inappropriate and is causing the great- est possible local concern and anxiety.”
Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel and South Downs, echoed his concerns, highlighting a report from Horsham, Crawley and Mid Sussex councils claiming that a new town “wasn’t sustainable”.
He said Mayfield Market Towns had gone “much further” than set out a proposal for a new town – including distributing 8,000 leaflets north of Horsham telling people the development could stop development elsewhere.
He added: “The developers are setting out to undermine the normal local planning process and interfere with the sensitive consultations that local authorities are holding with our electorate.
"That is entirely reprehensible behaviour.
"It is deeply unhelpful to the development of new plans and it should be roundly condemned.”
A spokeswoman for Mayfield Market Towns said it was “aware” of concerns about development.
She added: “By creating a new market town rather than ad-hoc housing estates spread across Sussex, we can create quality spaces that businesses need, homes that people can afford and jobs that go with the full range of shops and social facilities that Mayfields will deliver.
“Though our website, meetings, presentations and newsletters we have tried to engage with a wide audience.
“We want local people to know they have a choice and passionately believe that well-planned new communities are a much better way of meaningfully addressing the growing housing crisis than the current strategy of continuous ‘add ons’ to existing towns and villages.”