Plans bluprint ‘chaos’ for Uckfield

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Business leaders in the Uckfield area battling to overturn the Ashdown Forest 7km development rule believe they are making headway.

Chamber of Commerce members were told their case received a sympathetic hearing from Government Planning Minister, Nick Boles. And, the team planning a Judicial Review in the courts are said to be ‘quietly confident’ of success.

Chamber president David Marshall told last week’s meeting at Barnsgate Manor Vineyard that he was part of a delegation which saw Mr Boles along with Wealden MP, Charles Hendry.

Mr Marshall said they believed the 7km restriction, imposed as part of the Local Plan process in the Wealden District, will ‘result in a severe reduction in development and affect local business and employment opportunities, now and in future.’

He added: “Our view is that this will affect most people and not just developers and builders. We had about 40 minutes with the Minister and felt we had a good hearing.”

The delegation included Chamber member Chris Lawson with three Crowborough Chamber members - a sub committee which liaises with the Ashdown Forest Economic Development Partnership responsible for lodging the Judicial Review. He said the Minister told them Wealden was, as far as he knew, the most ‘extreme case’ of how this environmental rule was being implemented in the country. And he said he would do what he could to persuade the council to take a more realistic and pragmatic approach.

Chris Lawson told the Express: “If Wealden loses this Review the Core Strategy will fall. Wealden planning will be in chaos. Under those circumstances I feel the entire Council should resign. A vast amount of money has been spent on the process.” He asked businesses that fell foul of the 7km rule and were prepared to be identified to let the Chamber know.

Adrian Corbin said the second Uckfield Business Awards would be held on November 6 next year. Many of the 15 categories are already sponsored but some remain available. He hopes the event MC will be a nationally known TV personality. Peter Roe told members a food bank to help people in crisis will soon be set up in Uckfield.

The meeting approved applications from Jane Bolton Garden Design (Newick,) commercial agents Oldfield Smith and Uckfield Festival Association. David Matthews (Matthews Training) and Fiona Haywood (Cafe Style Training) gave presentations. Darren Butcher of Barnsgate Manor Vineyard outlined plans for the year and thanked staff.