Some residents have raised concerns that a 70 house development could be built on land in Herstmonceux.
The HX Action Group claim houses could be built on land at Lime Cross after a proposal for development on the site was unveiled in the Herstmonceux Neighbourhood Plan.
The Action Group claim 94 per cent of residents questioned in a recent survey about the parish said they wanted to see smaller pockets of developments built over 14 years and not one large development in the village. The plan also proposes 30 extra houses for land on Windmill Hill and Cowbeech. The group said small scale developments would be better for the village as it would enable new residents to integrate more easily, ease traffic congestion, lighten public service pressures on school, doctors and transport. It said it is not opposed to a Neighbourhood Plan but wanted alternative sites and suggestions proposed to meet the housing target, as it felt the council had not made residents aware of plans for a larger estate.
A spokesman for the group said: “70 houses was the original quota for the whole parish. Now it has become a 70-dwelling village housing estate. The threat is that large developers start trying to pick off large sites along the A271, smearing together Windmill Hill, Herstmonceux, Magham Down and Cowbeech. Local character would be lost and the road turned into a rat run to Hailsham and Eastbourne.”
Herstmonceux Parish Council which drew up the plan said it has not been possible to find smaller sites because they are either inside or on the edge of the village boundary. A spokeswoman said: “The plan has raised many challenging issues. Although local people said they preferred this to be done by choosing small sites, it has not been possible to meet the target in that way. The choice of sites is either inside or on the edge of the village boundary – all the smaller sites suggested are beyond the village edge and/or are in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which has a higher level of protection from development. The draft plan includes one site each in Herstmonceux, Windmill Hill and Cowbeech with two crucial goals in mind. First, to use the housing schemes to maximise important community benefits, e.g. affordable housing, self-build housing, improved community facilities and second to minimise the impact of development on the precious landscape character of the parish. Of course, not everyone agrees with the proposals; some will be more affected than others. However, the risk in not having our own plan is becoming greater as the demand increases for housing development in our area.”
The concerns were raised after the parish council unveiled its pre-submission Neighbourhood Plan with 17 policies relating to parish development. The council is asking for residents to review and comment on the plan. The plan will give residents more of a say on developments in the area. It will become a statutory planning document carrying significant weight in informing local planning decisions by Wealden District Council. Comments will be analysed before the final plan is drawn up and residents will have another opportunity to comment on the final plan. Comment on the plans before the end of the consultation on January 24.