Concrete or countryside for Lewes area

LEWES District Council Cabinet (LDC) is in the process of deciding on the Local Development Framework – Core Strategy – Emerging Strategy, which will, among other things, be the blueprint for the development of housing in the district for the next five years.

The decision is to be ratified on September 7 and the strategy will then go to consultation at the end of September for a period of six weeks according to the forward plan of the LDC.

I would urge all residents to register their interest in this document by e-mailing the head of planning policy at Edward.Sheath@lewes.gov.uk to ensure they can comment on the document, which will determine which sites will be made available for housing developments.

The current government has stated that “local planning authorities should plan positively for new developments and approve all individual proposals wherever possible”.

Those readers of a nervous disposition living in Wivelsfield and Ringmer should NOT visit the LDC website and search for the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) report, which on page 54 gives a breakdown of the sites put forward by developers as being available.

The SHLAA helps to inform the decision making process for the strategic framework and is not in itself an indication of which sites will be eventually chosen for development..

While Newhaven, Peacehaven, Ditchling and Lewes have more potential housing sites, the disadvantages in terms of infrastructure, air quality impact, traffic congestion and less likelihood of developers being able to make sufficient profits all point to Ringmer and Wivelsfield as likely sites for initial housing development.

A further “god read” is the website of the planning consultants Nathaniel Lichfield, who were retained by LDC to assist in the process. They have an excellent document on their website in the section NLP Insight titled “All systems Go” which explains the new government development strategy from the standpoint of opportunities available to the developer.

No doubt parish councils will comment on the strategy, but they may not carry sufficient weight on their own to prevent unsuitable developments. Unless all interested Lewes district residents lobby Lewes District councillors now, by the time the Core Strategy document is agreed on September 7, it may be too late to prevent developers concreting over more of our Sussex countryside.

F P Plachy, Ringmer