Hailsham residents fight back against ‘catastrophic’ plans for 300 new houses

A group of Hailsham residents has handed in a petition against plans for a new housing development.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Friday, 25th June 2021, 12:43 pm

Plans for 300 new houses, 35 per cent of which are affordable, to be built on the edge of Hailsham at Old Marshfoot Farm were approved back in May 2020.

The development includes associated public spaces, play areas, internal roads and parking, with access provided from Marshfoot Lane.

Hundreds of letters from residents objecting to the plans have been received by the council, and now a second petition has been handed in by residents from Marshfoot Lane who object to the plans.

Marshfoot Lane campaigners handing in the petition today (June 24) SUS-210624-123607001
Marshfoot Lane campaigners handing in the petition today (June 24) SUS-210624-123607001

The campaign group of residents said they feel like they’ve been ‘ignored at every single stage of this undemocratic process’.

Lynda Sparkes, the spokesperson for the group said, “We, as Marshfoot Lane residents, have fought this issue for the past four years. To say that we feel our voices and views have not been heard by Wealden Planning Committee South or consultees is an understatement.

“The issues are wide and the implications will affect everyone in Hailsham. This development will impact Hailsham’s landscape, residents, infrastructure and traffic congestion for eternity.

“The impact of this development will ricochet throughout Hailsham and its environs as well as directly affect the lives of residents in and around Marshfoot Lane for in perpetuity.

Marshfoot Lane campaigners handing in the petition today (June 24) SUS-210624-123556001

“It is and will remain a contentious plan that will impact the entirety of Hailsham in every aspect: residents, schools, parking, businesses, congestion.”

The first petition submitted said, “The proposal to build and develop the land can only have catastrophic effects.”

Problems raised around the plans include the increase in traffic, noise and light pollution, sewage and flooding issues. The site is close to Pevensey Levels too, a wetland site of special scientific interest, so there are worries around the environmental impact on wilflife and nature too.

In relation to this, the petition said, “Apart from the detrimental impact on landscape and locality, there would be destruction of traditional field patters, environmental damage to ecosystems and food webs.

Marshfoot Lane parking. Photo taken by Neil Stone on May 23 2021. SUS-210624-124135001

“A housing development would be out of context. There would be urbanisation and the particular charm and beauty of arable pastures would be lost.”

According to the documents submitted, the plans had various ecological surveys carried out to ensure that protected species and local wildlife have been considered within the development and emission mitigation assessments have taken place too.

Flooding is a concern of campaigners. The petition says the development would be built on a Flood Zone 1 and the proposed fields are already ‘directly affect by flooding’ according to residents.

The petition said, “Flood Zone 2 is looming. As forecast, in 19 years’ time this situation will only worsen.”

In response to this, the planning documents submitted to Wealden District Council say ‘the underlying geology is not suitable for infiltration sustainable drainage systems, but the onsite watercourses will provide a suitable outfall for the surface water from the development’.

Plans say, “Given the prevailing ground conditions, infiltration is not a viable option. Therefore, the surface water runoff generated by the development will outfall into the watercourses that bisect or run adjacent to the site. The entire onsite surface water drainage networks, will discharge to their respective outfalls via gravity.”

Access to the site through Marshfoot Lane is a recurring worry raised in letters from residents too.

The petition says the access would be via ‘a small, narrow rural, dead end lane with no turning points’ which already has a number of sites along it including two schools, a residential home, a cattery and a football ground.

On the subject of access, the planning documents say, “Development site access will divert Marshfoot Lane into the site with the existing lane forming a priority junction within the vicinity of the cattery.”

A travel plan has also been submitted by the developers to try and reduce the number of private cars coming in and out of the site with the hope of producing a sustainable development with ‘safe and suitable access’. Traffic flow will also be monitored, according to the plans.

The spokesperson for the campaign group said, “Already it is a health and safety issue with parking, reducing it to single lane traffic impairing visibility and making it hard to navigate. Speeding traffic adds to the dangers. To add 300 houses and the associated traffic to this then only chaos and congestion will ensue.”

Resident are continuing to fight against the plans.

Penny Galitzine said, “The south of Wealden has seen an astronomical increase in huge housing developments over the last 15 years and as residents of this area it is time to call a halt.”

Marian Cryer said, “The area cannot cope with anymore new buildings. The roads were not designed to cope with so much traffic. The environment will be effected by flooding and pollution. This application for 300 new home is a mistake and should be stopped now.”

The plans are a ‘hideous overdevelopment’, according to Margaret and Charles Harding.

Roger and Joy Poppy said, “This development in Marshfoot Lane will undoubtedly have dire consequences for the Pevensey Levels and Hailsham in general because of the increased congestion.”

Speaking after handing in the petition on June 22, the spokesperson for the campaign group said, “This Petition touches the surface of residents of Hailsham’s depth of feelings towards this inappropriate plan. Will Hailsham residents’ voices be heard?”

To keep up with the progress of the plans go to: https://planning.wealden.gov.uk/plandisp.aspx?recno=152961