Uckfield convent homes plan approved

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The unpopular scheme to build on land around a demolished convent in Uckfield has now been formally approved.

Plans for three houses to be torn down and 14 built on the St Michael’s Convent site in New Town has been earmarked for approval by Wealden councillors.

But there are strict conditions attached to planners’ recommended approval.

These include providing affordable housing, open space and money towards the Uckfield Town Centre improvement scheme.

The plan replaces another previously approved for two blocks of 30 flats and one dwelling which was abandoned following considerable opposition from neighbours and lack of demand..

The committee report says: “Whilst controversial, very many of the core issues in this case regarding acceptability of development here, access to the site from the High Street and via altered Old Timbers Lane were all established and accepted through the 2009 scheme.

“Since the case is for reduced form of development there is no conflict with policy.”

Uckfield Town Council has opposed the planning application .

Councillors said it would result in an oppressive building mass which would have an overbearing impact on the location.

It adds gated access which could cause traffic problems, the council said.

Another consideration was that no access or egress should be allowed off Old Timbers Lane as this could cause disputes with existing rights of way users.

The town council comments: “Excessive widening of Old Timbers Lane would result in the loss of character of the lane and also the loss of an ancient hedgerow if a pedestrian footpath is installed.

“The lane is heavily used by users of the recreation ground.“

The town council adds that Ordnance Survey maps dating back to 1910 show St Michael’s as having no access onto the lane.

The Wealden District Council report concludes that there have long been calls for a less dominant development of houses than previously proposed which reflect the grain of development close by and the current scheme seeks to provide that.

It says: “Matters of highway safety, neighbour impact and design/layout are all deemed acceptable, with many principles accepted under the permitted scheme.”

Consent was given in October 2009 to demolish the convent building to make way for a new nursery annexed to St Philip’s Catholic Primary School.