Planners approve East Sussex homes

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Proposals for homes in Lower Dicker have been approved by Wealden planners.

On Thursday (June 13), Wealden District Council’s Planning Committee South considered outline proposals to build two “low profile” dwellings on land to the rear of a property known as Laurel Cottage, which sits to the north of the A22.

The proposals involve the demolition of an existing outbuilding from the site, with officers having described the site as ‘previously developed land’.

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While recommended for approval, the scheme had seen opposition from Hellingly Parish Council, which argued it would result in an overdevelopment of the site. The parish council had also objected to the site’s indicative layout, but this was a matter for consideration at a later stage of the planning process.

Laurel Cottage, Lower Dicker. Pic: ContributedLaurel Cottage, Lower Dicker. Pic: Contributed
Laurel Cottage, Lower Dicker. Pic: Contributed

Some of the parish council’s concerns were presented at the meeting by ward councillor David White. Arguing for refusal, Cllr White said: “The application seeks approval for a development of two detached dwellings located in the garden to the rear of Laurel House — the detached house fronting the A22.

“As such it is clearly in conflict with policies LD1 and LD2 of the Hellingly Neighbourhood Plan, in providing backland development that erodes the linear pattern of the present development and the openness of the area. It is also in conflict with policies GD2, DC17, EN8 and EN27 of the Adopted Local Plan 1998, [which are] all restrictive of development in rural locations outside development boundaries.

“Against this is the wish to meet the housing needs targets … by allowing development in sustainable locations. However, I am not persuaded that the provision of two dwellings … outweighs the harm in not following the clear policies in the Hellingly Neighbourhood Development Plan, the saved policies from the Adopted Local Plan and Core Strategy Plan.”

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Officers had reached a different conclusion, arguing in favour of granting outline planning permission. This recommendation was partly based on the council’s housing targets, which put a “presumption in favour of development” under national planning rules when not met.

Councillors questioned this, however, with officers being unable to provide the council’s current housing supply figure — the measure used to determine whether the target had been met. Officers said the most recent figure was 3.88 years, just shy of the four-year supply needed to remove the ‘presumption in favour’ given the council’s work to bring forward a local plan.

Even so, the application was narrowly approved when put to the vote.

Speaking in favour of this approval, the committee’s deputy chair Alison Wilson (Green) said: “My feeling is that the fact this is considered to be previously developed land does make a difference. We are not looking at something which is a green field and therefore the landscape impact is that much greater.

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“It does feel to me that it is already a garden and the development would be tucked away behind. It is not particularly visible and it is very close to Knights Farm. Other development in that area is not all linear; there are houses which are set back from the road.

“So my feeling is that we just don’t have sufficient reasons to refuse it.”

For further information see application reference WD/2024/0696/O on the Wealden District Council website.