Furious residents meet as 700 new homes proposed

Members of North Hailsham & Hellingly Residents Union protesting against the 700 homes proposal outside the offices of Wealden District Council.
Members of North Hailsham & Hellingly Residents Union protesting against the 700 homes proposal outside the offices of Wealden District Council.

THE leader of a residents’ union wants clear facts from Wealden’s district authority about 700 homes proposed for North Hailsham – as a petition opposing such moves gains 800 signatures.

Land between North Hailsham and Hellingly, in the triangular site of New Road, Park Road and the A271, has been shortlisted as a site for the homes by Wealden District Council in its core strategy.

North Hailsham and Hellingly Residents Union, opposing the idea, has arranged a meeting to discuss the scheme at 8pm in Emmanuel Church Hall on Hawkswood Road, on September 19. Four councillors have committed to attend - county cllrs Nick Bennett and Roger Thomas, and district and town cllrs Nigel Coltman and Barry Marlowe. There will be question-and-answers on issues such as traffic congestion and drainage.

Grant de Jongh, residents’ union chairman who describes himself as, ‘really just a home owner who has suddenly found himself leading a residents’ union’, hoped clearer information could be gained from the planning authority about the future of North Hailsham. He feared that any number of homes might be built there and residents needed to know more.

Mr de Jongh told the Sussex Express: “We don’t want to see that land touched. There is still a fear of that and we want to make sure they hear us loud and clear not to touch that land. I am learning all sorts of views from other people on the matter and hopefully all our views will be represented. My own point of view is that it is my backyard. I want to save it for my kids.”

A petition with 800 signatures calling for the land to be removed from the list of potential building sites will be submitted to Wealden on November 28. Planning consent has been refused twice before with a 525 homes plan rejected in 2005.

James Aldred, policy officier for Wealden, stressed no planning application had been received for North Hailsham. A developer [Terence O’Rourke] held a consultation exhibition which had nothing to do with the council, he said.

Mr Aldred said: “The 2005 app was rejected because the land was not at that time identified for development in Wealden’s planning policies, because the application did not sufficiently allow for improvements to infrastructure to take account of the increased traffic levels, and due to the environmental impact it would have had on the Pevensey Levels. While this land has now been identified for possible development, any future application will still need to demonstrate that it will mitigate these impacts to the council’s satisfaction.”

North Hailsham has been identified as a ‘broad location for the development of 700 dwellings’, Mr Aldred said, including employment, retail and education, and he added: “Environmental and traffic studies have added to the body of evidence on these issues and given us a clearer picture as to what mitigation measures would be required to make an application acceptable.”

Mr Aldred also said the precise development area in that part of town and the requirements to make building acceptable at that site have not yet been identified.