Decision due on long-awaited housing development near Battle

Long-awaited proposals for a major housing development in Battle are to come before Rother planners next week.

The Blackfriars site near Battle. Picture: Google Earth
The Blackfriars site near Battle. Picture: Google Earth

On Thursday (October 10), Rother District Council’s planning committee is set to consider an outline application to build up to 220 homes at the Blackfriars site near Battle – land partly owned by the council which has been set aside for housing for many years.

The application also seeks full planning permission for the construction of a “spine road” between The Spinney and Harrier Lane, which would effectively connect Marley Lane and Hastings Road.

In a report recommending councillors approve the plans, a Rother planning officer said: “The site has been identified for development for many years and was more recently allocated as a housing site within the Rother District Local Plan 2006 having been found acceptable as part of the local plan inquiry process. 

“The proposal presented for the spine road has resulted from careful consideration of the local highway network, the challenging local topography and ecological issues. 

“The residential element of the application is in outline only with all matters regarding its layout and design to be considered at a later stage as reserved matters. 

“Officers have identified a number of design issues with the illustrative masterplan that has been submitted with the application, but nevertheless still consider that the site and spine road layout offers capacity to deliver up to 220 dwellings. 

“Subject to the imposition of conditions and the prior completion of a legal agreement the development is recommended for approval.”

While set aside for housing for some time, the proposals have seen concerns raised by a number of residents as well as the Woodland Trust and The Ramblers. 

Concerns raised by residents include fears over traffic in the area, impact on the High Weald AONB and overdevelopment of the site.

Battle Town Council has also objected to the proposals, raising concerns about its access to the town’s railway station. 

Last year, Rother District Council was awarded £3.25m of government funding in an effort to ‘kickstart’ the building process.

The majority of this funding was set aside for the development of the new road included in the application.

The council is the largest of four landowners at Blackfriars and, as such, the development is expected to have a higher than average number of affordable homes as a result.

According to the council, previous attempts to develop the land have been unsuccessful  due to lack of agreement between the landowners over the value of the land, as well as complex ground conditions and the need for costly road infrastructure.

But, in an effort to move ahead with the plans, the council has now entered into a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with the three other landowners, with all parties agreeing to allow site access during any road construction work.