Crowborough detached houses approved despite location in AONB

Proposals for a housing development on the edge of Crowborough have been given the go ahead by Wealden planners.

Layout of the plots of the two Crowborough homes
Layout of the plots of the two Crowborough homes

On Thursday (October 14), Wealden District Council’s planning committee north approved an application to build a garage and two detached four-bedroom houses on land to the north of Eridge Road. 

While recommended for approval, the application was called in for debate by ward councillor Kay Moss (Independent), who argued the site was inappropriate as it falls within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and outside of Crowborough’s development boundary. 

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Cllr Moss raised similar concerns at the meeting, adding that she had concerns about the design and size of the properties.

Similar concerns to those raised by Cllr Moss were put forward by committee member Cllr Keith Obbard (Green). 

He said: “In the executive summary, an officer mentioned that next door there is a recently-built site and also there are two other sites in the neighbourhood, which have been given permission. I feel that we have gone to the limit.

“This is within the High Weald AONB and I note the term ‘just within’. It is either within the AONB or it isn’t. And it is.

“The NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) for the AONB states that sustainable development can take place unless there is a clear reason for refusal and  [also] gives us that clear reason; ‘great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing the landscape and natural beauty and any development must be limited’.

“Well we have had quite a bit of development, so now I think we have reached the limit.”

Cllr Obbard went on to move refusal of the application, seconded by Cllr Gareth Owen-Williams (Lib Dem). 

Other committee members felt differently, however, arguing that such a refusal would be indefensible should the applicant take it to appeal. 

Cllr Neil Waller (Con) said: “Yes, this site is within the AONB and yes it is outside of the development boundary for Crowborough. But I think we need to look a bit more pragmatically at this than that.

“I have lived in Crowborough for most of my life and for 46 years, which is the time I have lived in Crowborough, there has been a settlement of houses along this road. 

“I can’t see us objecting to this new development, bearing in mind that along the very same road and in the vicinity we have recently and in the near past approved schemes, which are both in the AONB and outside of the development boundary. We would be laughed out of the inspector’s room. 

“For that reason, I can see no reason why we wouldn’t approve the officer’s recommendation.”

Following discussion the application was approved on a majority vote. 

For further information see application reference WD/2020/1423/F on the Wealden District Council website.