Countryside charity slams proposals for 3,000 homes in East Chiltington

The countryside charity CPRE Sussex has criticised plans for a 3,000-home new town on land owned by Eton College at East Chiltington.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 4:56 pm
Residents opposed to the proposals. Photo by Charlotte Boulton

It says the development was not needed and would devastate a huge area of countryside.

Kia Trainor, the director of CPRE Sussex, said ‘a fundamental flaw’ in current planning policy was leaving undesignated countryside in the south east vulnerable to new developments.

“Local housing needs could be met by building on brownfield sites or by developing the many sites that already have planning permission and are sitting idle,” she said.

“There are many sites in the Lewes district – especially Newhaven – that are crying out for regeneration and where people would welcome new, affordable housing.”

John Kay, the CPRE’s representative for Lewes, said that housing need was actually decreasing in the area.

“It’s simple demographics – in this area, we’re dying faster than we’re being born,” he said.

“Schemes like the Eton new town are blatant attempts to exploit planning policy.

“Large scale developments like this – on greenfield sites in the middle of nowhere – will do nothing to meet local housing needs.”

A campaign to oppose the Eton College scheme was launched in March and more than 1,700 people from throughout the Lewes District have already signed up via the campaign website.

Campaign leader Marc Munier said: “This development is simply not needed.

“It would do nothing to support local housing need but would utterly destroy an idyllic area of Sussex countryside.

“The site is right on the border of the Sussex Downs National Park and there is no infrastructure in place for a development on such a massive scale.

“The Government says it is committed to protecting and enhancing the natural environment but this development would fly in the face of that.

“We are urging Eton to live up to its green credentials, help preserve the countryside rather than destroy it, and rethink its plans for the site.”

Welbeck Land, the developer working on the proposal on behalf of Eton College, previously said its plans for a mixed-use community were ‘an innovative and sustainable response to the need for local housing’ and would help boost the local rural economy.

“All development at scale in England is likely to be controversial but we are committed to engaging with our local partners, stakeholders and the community to develop our plans with the needs of the district and the wider area as a central focus,” the spokesman said.

It wants the homes to be included in the Lewes Local Plan.

The council is currently carefully evaluating all of the sites put forward for inclusion in the plan, ahead of a full public consultation which is due to take place this summer.

The plan will be submitted to government in 2023 and will need to show that the district can meet its housing target of 782 homes, which has been calculated using the standard national methodology set by government.

To find out more about Welbeck Land’s plans, visit www.northbarnesfarm.co.uk