A group set up to provide affordable housing in Ringmer and the surrounding area has received planning permission for its first self-built development.
On Wednesday (April 24), Lewes District Council’s planning committee unanimously approved an outline application to build six homes – four of which would be social housing – on a greenfield site adjacent to Neaves House in Laughton Road, Ringmer.
The application had been put forward with the support of the Ringmer Area Community Land Trust (RACLT), an organisation which aims to work with landowners to build new affordable housing in the villages of Ringmer, Glynde, Firle and Beddingham.
Before making its decision, the planning committee heard from RACLT chairman Max Pengelley. He said: “The proposal is we will take on the building and running of those affordable houses.
“Because of our constitution that means they will be there and will be available in perpetuity. They cannot be sold, which I think is a very important point.
“This would also represent the first programme that we would endeavour to build in our village. It therefore represents a very exciting new opportunity to provide affordable housing for our Ringmer residents.”
The application was also supported by Richard Turner (Con. – Ouse Valley and Ringmer), who is a member of the CLT’s steering group.
Normally a member of the planning committee, Cllr Turner attended the meeting as ward councillor instead, giving up his vote in favour of speaking in support of the proposals.
Cllr Turner said: “I have crossed the line today and am on this side, because I am very very passionate about this project.
“You might argue that we are only getting four affordable houses, but I would argue that they are not affordable, they are going to be social houses.
“We are going to house six families which need housing. Four of them are going to get truly social housing, which is going to be for local families or people with local connections and keep the village together.”
The application was itself a resubmission of a proposal which was refused last year due to it lying within a rural exception area. The classification of the site means development would only have been acceptable if the site had been 100 per cent affordable housing.
However it was later accepted that the inclusion of two market houses would be necessary to fund the rest of the project. This view was supported by Ringmer Parish Council, which had objected to the previous scheme.
The resubmitted plans also won unanimous support from the planning committee, with several committee members stressing their support of the CLT’s model of providing the homes ‘in perpetuity’.
This model prevents the homes being sold off to former tenants via Right to Buy legislation.
Tony Rowell (Green. – Lewes Priory) said: “Right to Buy has been a disaster for so many communities not only in Ringmer but throughout the country.
“I would be pleased and delighted if the community land trust takes this on because it is a terrible policy which needs to go.”
Following a short discussion the application was approved unanimously by the committee. As an outline application, further details of the project will be subject to a reserved matters application before construction work can begin.