Traveller site in Hadlow Down angers residents

Five Badgers, Stonehurst Lane, Hadlow Down. Photo courtesy of Google Maps. SUS-160219-120337001
Five Badgers, Stonehurst Lane, Hadlow Down. Photo courtesy of Google Maps. SUS-160219-120337001

The lack of enough gypsy and traveller sites in Wealden has ‘tipped the balance’ in favour of a controversial scheme in Hadlow Down.

Parish councillors are furious Wealden has given the thumbs up to a restrospective application to allow land next to Five Badgers, Stonehurst Lane to be used to house one mobile home, two touring caravans and a timber day room. The site is next to an existing traveller pitch and council officials say there are family links between the two.

Angry residents fear this growing village or gypsy site hinders good relations between occupants and the rest of the community.

In their report, planners point out touring caravans are sometimes on site and sometimes not, although the day room has been built together with various sheds and paraphernalia. They acknowledge the application is controversial. This is partly because it is retrospective and partly because it is in the AONB and near the Ashdown Forest. An enforcement notice has also been served with regard to some works.

But it also states there is a policy vacuum for District traveller pitches which, in their words, becomes a ‘very weighty consideration in the balance.’

Hadlow Down Parish Council strongly objects to the scheme. Members say its rural location flies in the face of policies for traveller sites. The Local Plan states ‘the natural beauty of the area should be conserved and enhanced’ but this isn’t achieved and the development is not in keeping. Councillors fear a septic tank is an environmental hazard because of the soakaway on clay soil and the number of people who use it.

Replying to the Parish Council, planners say the scheme will only be for a temporary period (expiring January 28, 2019) when it must be demolished and the land restored. This, they feel, allows the council to complete work on its gypsy and traveller policy. In the meantime, they say, ‘the harm to the AONB is considered tolerable.’

Other objectors cites ‘immense’ increase in trafffic and the fact that all previous planning application decisions are ignored by the occupants of the site and existing conditions have never been met.

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