Battle to protect countryside from 200 homes

Development plan, Old Malling Farm, Lewes SUS-150819-104450008
Development plan, Old Malling Farm, Lewes SUS-150819-104450008

Two local environmental campaign groups are joining forces to fight a proposal to build 200 new homes on a greenfield site in the heart of the Ouse Valley.

Friends of Lewes and the South Downs Society are protesting against an application to build a new housing development on Old Malling Farm.

The independent planning inspector, who conducted a public inquiry in January into the latest stage of the local plan covering the whole of Lewes district including that part in the National Park, concluded the plan would yield insufficient new dwellings to meet local need. He suggested that land at Old Malling Farm in Lewes could be developed to provide more houses, but this is a site already considered – and previously rejected – by the South Downs National Park Authority.

Chairman of the Friends of Lewes, Robert Cheesman, said: “This must be resisted. The designation of the National Park, and the decision to include the town of Lewes within it, was to ensure the protection of our precious landscape, the downland setting of Lewes and its cultural heritage. All of these are seriously threatened by the proposal to build 200 houses on quality farmland at Old Malling Farm, which is highly visible as well as having historic associations and archaeological significance.”

Steve Ankers, policy officer for the South Downs Society, added: “Both societies want to see more affordable housing available in and around Lewes on brownfield sites but, as the official Friends group for the National Park, we very much share this opposition to any new housing estate at Old Malling Farm.

“Development there would be a worrying precedent for building on other greenfield sites on the edge of town or elsewhere in the Park.”

A further round of consultation is taking place between August 7 and October, with a possible reopening of the public inquiry in the autumn to consider comments.

While the Societies will be putting forward a strong objection to the 200 houses proposed for Old Malling Farm, it is vital that members of the public make their views known. Details of the proposals are available on Lewes District Council website.

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