Council is refusing to release a key Inspector’s report, critics say?

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A vital report from a Government inspector about controversial aspects of Wealden’s future is being kept secret, councillors and planners say.

Inspector Michael Moore chaired a meeting last month to hear concerns about the council’s Core Strategy document – the blueprint for the District until 2026.

Main issues were an outright ban on commercial activity within seven kilometres of the Ashdown Forest and the refusal to allow new homes in Heathfield because of the AONB. The Inspector’s interim Fact Check report has now been delivered to Wealden District Council but the only people allowed to see it at present are planning cabinet member Cllr Roy Galley and planning officers.

Property agent Chris Lawson asked: “How do we know what is being said and will they make changes to the report before it is released? Everyone who bothered to turn up to the hearing should be able to find out what is in this document.”

District and parish Councillor Ken Ogden said: “I have been ringing around and discover we will not see this paper for several weeks. As a public document we should all be entitled to find out what’s in it.”

A Wealden spokesman said The Fact Check allows the planning authority to verify facts the Inspector has drawn together during his examination of the Core Strategy, a process which began in September 2011 and included public hearings this year and the further public session held on September 6.

“It is not an opportunity for the council to question the conclusions contained within the Planning Inspector’s forthcoming public report.

The council is advised not to publish until the Fact Check process is complete and the final report issued. Details at http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/pins/dpd_procedure_guide.pdf