Mixed fortunes for Heathfield schemes

A Little Waitrose like that planned for Heathfield
A Little Waitrose like that planned for Heathfield

A major redevelopment scheme in Heathfield has received the thumbs down from councillors.

Plans to demolish Holdenhurst in Mill Road, an Abbeyfield residential home, and build a new, extra care facility on the site, were recommended for approval by Wealden planners.

But the proposal was vigorously opposed by local people who felt the building was too big and intrusive in what is largely a residential area. They were also concerned about drainage, traffic movements and parking.

Two days before the planning committee meeting, Abbeyfield re-submitted amended plans which they hoped addressed people’s concerns and would be approved.

At last Thursday’s meeting, members disagreed with planning officers and refused consent for the scheme. They said the development is ‘out of keeping with the character of the locality and adjoining properties because of its form, site coverage, density, scale and mass.’ It is therefore contrary to the council’s planning policy and national planning advice, including the Wealden Design Guide.

Abbeyfield’s head of development, Richard Virr said: “We are disappointed with the decision and are currently considering our options.”

Meanwhile, another major Heathfield project is moving ahead with the blessing of the local community.

Up to 60 new jobs will be provided when the town’s new Waitrose supermarket opens this autumn. Last September Waitrose announced plans to replace the Goldsmith and Allcorn garage in Station Road with a convenience shop. Agreement was reached after the garage was made available for redevelopment.

Plans were approved and the garage is already being demolished. However Vauxhall dealership Goldsmith and Allcorn plan to continue to serve their local customers with new workshops on the opposite side of the road. They are also extending their premises in Uckfield.

The supermarket will have a sales area of 6,000 sq ft and provide 37 car parking spaces. The building will be similar in footprint and height to the existing garage it is replacing.

Waitrose will start recruiting for the new store this summer with jobs advertised on: www.jlpjobs.com

The store will predominantly provide food for now, food for later and a selection of everyday essentials. Most of the 6,000 lines on offer will therefore be dedicated to fresh foods. Waitrose will commit £500 and 100 staff working hours each year to local causes through its Community Matters and Partner Volunteering initiatives.