700 homes - residents are unsure about the future

A PROPOSAL to dump 700 new houses in North Hailsham has moved into mysterious waters after residents heard from councillors at a public meeting – and most left feeling baffled about what will happen in the future.

Planners at Wealden District Council have shortlisted land between North Hailsham and Hellingly, in the triangular site of New Road, Park Road and the A271, as potentially suitable for 700 new homes as part of the authority’s core development strategy.

But North Hailsham and Hellingly Residents Union, as reported previously in the Sussex Express, is vehemently opposed to the idea – and a public meeting was held in Emmanunel Church Hall on September 19. Both councillors and around 115 residents attended, according to Grant de Jongh, chairman of the residents’ union.

Mr de Jongh said that there was a ‘bit of a battle’ at one point in the discussions between councillors.

Issues discussed, Mr de Jongh said, included sewerage control, road traffic density, sustainability from the extra homes and the effects of the South Downs National Park on any development. Concerns were also raised about the strain on health care in the parish from more homes.

Residents learnt at the meeting that just ‘not wanting’ a development was not enough to ensure a planning application failed, said Mr de Jongh. They were told there had to be a failure to meet planning requirements.

Councillors were also unable to answer all the residents’ questions, Mr de Jongh said, due to legal matters with planning laws. It was also asked if people moving into affordable homes in an area which was already affluent would bring a boost to the local economy.

Mr de Jongh said: “I think there was a sense of frustration from the majority of people at the end of the meeting. Councillors gave closing statements and half the people left whilst they were giving their statements, showing the frustration there.

“There was a degree of ambiguity and that frustrated people as they didn’t get the answers they would have liked to have received.”

Were you at the meeting? What did you think? Email: sussex.express.co.uk or write to Sussex Express, 25-26 High St, Lewes, BN7 2LU with your full name/address.