Signs opposing plans for 3,000 new homes on Eton College-owned land spring up in East Chiltington

Gardens bordering the narrow lanes and footpaths of East Chiltington are fast filling up with signs from action group Don’t Urbanise the Downs.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 5:33 pm
East Chiltington villagers with the new signs. Photo by Charlotte Boulton

Almost 1,500 supporters have joined the group to protest proposals to build 3,000 homes on land owned by Eton College – plans campaigners have dubbed an ‘Eton mess’.

Developer Welbeck Land, working on behalf of Eton College, proposes that the homes should be included in the Lewes Local Plan.

The action groups says the homes would create a ‘new town’ stretching to the edges of Plumpton Green and Chailey, ‘effectively drawing them into one large urban sprawl and decimating the unspoilt rural site next to the South Downs National Park’.

East Chiltington villagers with the new signs. Photo by Charlotte Boulton

Marc Munier, lead for Don’t Urbanise the Downs, said: “People from as far afield as Lewes are now joining us to show solidarity against this unwanted and unneeded town in this unspoilt corner of rural Sussex.

“We hope seeing our signs in the streets near them, or when they visit the countryside around here will prompt more people to join us.

“We are also asking people using our narrow lanes, footpaths and bridleways to take photographs of any animals, birds, insects and unusual plants they see.

“Their sightings can then be officially registered by experts so that we can build a picture of the flora and fauna we are at risk of losing if the development were to go ahead.”

Local politicians have previously stated their opposition to the scheme.

Lewes MP Maria Caulfield called it ‘completely unacceptable’, while James MacCleary, Lewes District Council Leader, said it would ‘fundamentally alter the nature of that entire part of the district’.

Eton College has asked the council to consider the site for development as it draws up its new local plan.

There is no planning application for the land at this stage.

Lewes District Council has explained that just because a landowner submits a site for consideration, it does not mean it automatically goes into the Local Plan.

The council is currently carefully evaluating all of the sites put forward for inclusion.

A full public consultation on the issues and options for the new local plan is due to take place this summer.

The plan will be submitted to government in 2023.

It 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.

Welbeck Land has been approached for a comment.

To find out more about the Don’t Urbanise the Downs campaign, visit their website at www.donturbanisethedowns.com