Euro directive stalls Maresfield home plan

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The seven kilometre no development zone around the Ashdown Forest has been cited as the main reason for refusing consent for a small building scheme in Maresfield.

Simon Baynes-Clarke appealed against Wealden’s decision to turn down his application to build two detached houses on a vacant plot on the south of Middle Drive.

In his application he explained the original house had been demolished to ground floor level and he aimed to rebuild one house on the same footprint and to put up a second dwelling behind.

He pointed out Middle Drive is inside the village development boundary. However the Ashdown Forest is 1.4km from the site.

In their refusal, Wealden raised no objection to the design, layout, scale or access arrangements of the proposed development or to any impact on adjoining residents.

And they said they would have permitted the scheme but for ‘lack of mitigation’ for the impact on the Ashdown Forest European sites.

Mr Baynes-Clarke contended his appeal application should have continued to approval in line with the positive resolution to allow building of one house by a committee which sat in April, before the seven km zone ruling.

But a planning inspector says: “The council’s procedures are not for me to comment on,” adding he has to determine the appeal according to the existing policy position.

He concluded: “The proposal would provide one additional residential unit which would contribute in a small part towards the district’s housing land supply. However this does not outweigh the harm that would be caused to the nature conservation interest of the Ashdown Forest.”

The controversial seven kilometre zone ruling around the forest is now receiving national media coverage.

On an edition of Eddie Mair’s PM programme on Radio Four, commercial property agent Chris Lawson spoke at length about how rural businesses were being driven out of Wealden.

He described how a picture framer wanted to set up a small firm but was refused, so sought premises outside the District. And a local vicar described having planning permission for a vicarage within his parish turned down.