MP Norman Baker criticises Wiveslfield Green homes decision

An MP has criticised an ‘unelected’ planning inspector’s decision after a 75 home development was given the green light.
MP Norman Baker SUS-140917-110945001MP Norman Baker SUS-140917-110945001
MP Norman Baker SUS-140917-110945001

An appeal has been allowed for 75 homes to be built on Land South of North Common Road in Wivelsfield Green.

MP Norman Baker has spoken out against the decision after formally objecting to the initial application, thrown out by Lewes District Council.

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“I do not think this is a good decision and I know will be a disappointment to many of my constituents,” said Mr Baker.

“Furthermore, it is disturbing that a united front from the village’s representatives - parish, district and MP – can be overridden in this way by one unelected official.”

The MP for Lewes added he was ‘dismayed’ by the decision to build in a ‘sensitive rural location’.

The application by Gleeson Homes includes two, three and four bedroom homes with 25 per cent of the homes being ‘affordable’.

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Richard Schofield, planning inspector, said the proportion of affordable homes would bring a ‘social benefit’, with 41 people in need of affordable homes in the Wivelsfield parish.

Although Lewes District Council and Wivelsfield Parish Council said they have already met their ‘social obligation with social housing in the district’, Mr Schofield argued neither party had given evidence about parish policies conflicting with the plans.

The inspector accepted the scheme would result in the ‘loss of countryside’ with ‘moderate harm to outlook’ from houses in the area but considered the site’s ‘wider context’.

“I do not consider that, overall, the scheme would have a substantial, adverse impact upon the character and appearance of the area,” he said.

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Mr Schofield agreed cars would be the main method of transport but said the development is ‘well located for access’ to the school, shop, pub and bus stop.

The Keep Wivelsfield Green Action Group (KWGAG) has campaigned against development on the land for 42 years.

Since the 1970s, there have been five planning applications and three appeals relating to the greenfield site.

The application for 75 homes was recommended for approval by planning officers who argued the council could not demonstrate a five-year land supply until the district plan was rubber stamped.

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Speaking at the time the Gleeson plans were submitted to Lewes District Council, Gordon Harper, a spokesman for KWGAG, said: “We are outraged and shocked – all 162 objections by residents from across the village have been ignored.

“This is an horrendous proposal – a development of 75 dwellings is not sustainable in a village the size of Wivelsfield Green.”

Wivelsfield Parish Council also opposed to the plan.

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