East Hoathly development will be challenged at appeal

Proposed new housing for East Hoathly
Proposed new housing for East Hoathly

Wealden planners have agreed to challenge a developer’s appeal for a controversial housing application in East Hoathly.

On Thursday (June 20), Wealden District Council’s planning committee south considered how to respond to an appeal launched by developers over proposals to build two houses on land at Buttsfield Lane in East Hoathly.

Developers launched their appeal on the grounds of non-determination, as the application was withdrawn from an agenda ahead of the submission of the new Wealden local plan.

Explaining the council’s position, head of planning Chris Bending said: “The council is at appeal and that brings us to a decision point.

“We either defend that appeal or we choose not to. We are suggesting as officers, very clearly, that we should defend that appeal.”

Mr Bending told the committee the site falls outside of the village’s development boundary within the emerging Wealden local plan and also conflicts with a number of planning policies within it.

He said these concerns would be grounds for refusing planning permission were the application still active and should form the basis of the council’s challenge if councillors wished to proceed.

However, he added that other concerns – many raised by objectors to the plans – were not considered to be sufficient planning grounds for refusal.

These concerns include a dispute around land ownership, which Mr Bending said was not a planning matter but could prevent an application being built out.

Following a short discussion, the committee agreed to back an officer’s recommendation to challenge the appeal on the grounds the development would fall outside of the village’s development boundary and conflict with policies within the emerging Wealden local plan.

The planning appeal process is currently underway, with the Planning Inspectorate seeking information from both parties.

In its submission developers say the emerging local plan is being given ‘totally disproportionate weight’ by the council.

In a statement submitted as part of its appeal, a spokesman for the developer said: “The application that is the subject of this appeal was dated 27 September 2016 and some two years later is as yet undetermined.

“The council has not put forward a reason for refusal but we understand that the proposed development would be refused as it does not comply with the policies within the emerging local plan.

“The council is applying totally disproportionate weight to its emerging plan, which has just completed its Regulation 19 consultation.

“It is the subject of substantial objections, not just from the development industry but also Natural England and neighbouring local planning authorities.

“The appellant has no choice but to appeal in order to obtain a decision.”