Wealden District Council’s new Draft Local Plan shows a lower housing requirement than originally demanded, but a significant shift in where some will be built.
Scientific evidence about the impact of exhaust pollution on the Ashdown Forest has influenced the Council’s decision to reduce housing numbers across the District.
Once approved, most likely in 2018, the planning blueprint will be used to determine development up to 2028. Members will discuss proposals at a joint meeting of the North and South Planning Committees on March 13 with subsequent discussions at Full Council on March 22.
Wealden’s planning cabinet member Cllr Ann Newton said: “This stage of the Local Plan process reflects the feedback from the Issues, Options and Recommendations document as well as results from a variety of scientific studies Wealden District Council has commissioned. Whilst encouraging growth for the housing need, the Plan has to take account of the sensitive environmental issues across the District, particularly Ashdown Forest. This new model allows for a better balance of employment and housing growth whilst protecting Ashdown Forest and the wider Wealden countryside.”
The delivery of infrastructure to accompany any housing remains at the core of the Local Plan strategy. Development boundaries have been re-drawn and the balance between leisure, work and housing taken into account.
Wealden must now build 14,101 new homes (compared with 19,509 formerly.) Hailsham’s allocation drops from 9,380 to 3,613 but Stone Cross must absorb 833 (against 500) and Polegate and Willingdon, 808 (formerly 1,000.)
Horam’s figure rises to 479 (400) while Heathfield’s drops from 800 to 270 (where sites change significantly) with the Vines Corner scheme out, no mention made of Heathfield Park and new sites off the A267 and Ghyll Road delivering more than 200 new homes now included.
Controversially, East Hoathly’s allocation rises to 230 from 190 while Crowborough’s drops from 140 to 37 (although Walshes Road appears to remain on the drawing board.) Building at Berwick Station doubles from 15 to 33. The draft plan shows no new allocation for Uckfield beyond those agreed for 1,000 homes at Ridgewood Farm and other known sites. Wadhurst’s allocation drops from 285 to 91 and Ninfield’s from 250 to 85.