Ringmer residents fear views on homes scheme may be ignored

Sy Morse-Brown
Sy Morse-Brown

Villagers fear local opinion on a major housing development may be ignored by Lewes District Council.

Gleeson Developments Ltd has submitted a planning application for 110 houses on land off Bishops Lane, Ringmer.

This was due to go before the planning committee on July 16 and was recommended for approval by district council technical officers. However it was deferred following criticism of the officers’ report.

A revised report is now awaited and is expected to be considered by the planning committee on September 17.

Sy Morse-Brown, Acting Chairman of the North Ringmer Residents Group, said: “Ringmer Parish Council has catalogued the inaccuracies and omissions in the report and its submission can be seen on the district council website.

“The district council is preparing its Core Strategy setting out amongst other matters the designation of housing sites in the district up to 2030. This document is well advanced and has allocated 220 houses in Ringmer for the period.

“Ringmer Parish Council has in parallel been preparing its Neighbourhood Development Plan [NDP] which has to conform to the Core Strategy and is also well advanced. It is the result of an enormous amount of work by the parish council including wide consultation in the village. The NDP has designated locations for 240 houses in the village to 2030 in a carefully phased programme to preserve ‘village feel’ and to be appropriate to the road, schools and drainage infrastructure. It includes houses on the Bishops Lane site at a later stage. The Gleeson proposal seeks permission for 50 per cent of the total allocation at the start of the plan period.”

Mr Morse-Brown continued: “The district council has said that the Core Strategy and the NDP are not sufficiently advanced to be given weight. However planning guidance says the NDP must be considered if ‘... the development proposed is so substantial, or its cumulative effect would be so significant, that to grant permission would undermine the plan-making process by pre-determining decisions about the scale, location or phasing of new development that are central to an emerging Local Plan or Neighbourhood Planning’.

“The officers have made a fundamental mis-judgement on this. Not to consider the policies of the Ringmer NDP would be to label the huge amount of work by the parish council, in producing a document of such high quality, as worthless. Local residents will justifiably conclude that their views and aspirations, which are required to be protected by the Localism Act 2011, count for nothing in the eyes of the district council.”