Council rejects numbers claim

Ghyll Road, Heathfield, development protest. SUS-170315-230828008
Ghyll Road, Heathfield, development protest. SUS-170315-230828008

Although Wealden’s Draft Local Plan shows reduced housing numbers, a leading environmental group says the council’s new figure is misleading - a claim rejected by council chiefs.

The Plan underwent radical changes since its first publication, with relief for some but fear for others as newly proposed, unpopular sites remain.

David Connoley from Save Wealden from Overdevelopment and the CPRE lead for East Sussex challenges Wealden’s lower numbers claim saying that the timeframe from the new Plan has been shortened from 2037 to 2028 and the annual home-building target has actually increased.

He emailed sub-committee members to highlight this attempt which, he says ‘misleads both councillors and charge payers’ with developers still in control and most locations targeting greenfield sites. He also queries any re-assessment of the impact nitrogen levels on the Ashdown Forest saying the Plan itself says ‘the modelling is incomplate and unavailable,’ and some wording is actually, in his terms,‘gobblegook.’

David asserted: “This means Wealden expects EU regulations for protection of the SAC to ‘trump’ developer appeals resulting from Wealden not approving any traffic damaging development applications. The plan is yet to go to Full Council on March 22 for approval to proceed to the formal consultation stages. We will maintain our vigil.”

And he notes named infrastucture provider East Sussex County Council has not yet commented on the latest Plan proposals. Further transport and education modelling work will be required with results factored into the Plan.

Much to the surprise of members at Monday’s Draft Plan committee meeting, figures were once again reduced from those quoted the week before. Proposed new numbers are down to 11.456 and now range from 2,420 in Hailsham, 108 in Polegate and Willingdon, 344 in Horam, 191 in Heathfield and 32 in Berwick.

A Wealden spokesman said: “The 11,456 homes proposed over the 15 year period in the draft Proposed Submission is a lower figure than the 19,950 homes proposed in the earlier Issues, Options and Recommendations, and is the equivalent of 764 new homes a year compared to 832.”