LETTER: Challenge the district first

We would suggest to cllr Wendy Alexander that, whilst she is absolutely correct that the Government needs to think hard and with strategic precision about the destructive effect its insatiable drive for housing is having on great swathes of Britain’s countryside and natural assets, she is not entirely correct to lay all the blame for the sacrifice of Polegate’s last patch of green on Central Government.

Wealden District Council, in stark contrast to many other rural district councils, has failed to put itself in a position where it can defend the district and her ward from unsustainable development, by claiming that it does not have a five-year land supply.

This, especially after the recent Hopkins judgement, is the equivalent of an almost open invitation to developer-led development and/or the vastly increased risk of costly appeals for a council daring to reject applications.

But, a widely circulated, professional analysis of Wealden’s five-year land supply from a district-wide residents’ group, SWOT (Save Wealden from Overdevelopment Team), whose focus is sustainable development, would suggest that the council’s analysis is unnecessarily, almost wilfully negative. For example, in the council’s latest Five Year Housing Supply document, it is argued that the backlog of 549 houses built in the district since March 2013 should be eliminated over the next five years.

However, if Wealden adopted the approach recommended by the Inspector who examined the Lewes Core Strategy in March of this year, it could be argued that the Council has overachieved against its 2013 Core Strategy and the surplus of 306 houses should be deducted from the target for the next five years.

At a stroke this one change would increase Wealden’s five-year land supply from the claimed 3.96 years to 4.96 years. By including projected future windfalls in the total, over five years’ land supply would be delivered.

So, cllr Alexander, you are right to challenge Central Government over its insatiable drive for housing growth, but we suggest that you also challenge your own district Council over its claimed five-year land supply and its strategy for preserving the natural beauty and heritage of Wealden.

Harriet Vogt

Lime Park, Herstmonceux