East Hoathly housing appeal a fresh test for Wealden’s emerging local plan

Wealden planners are set to consider controversial proposals to build housing in East Hoathly, as the council prepares to respond to a developer’s appeal.

Thursday, 13th June 2019, 1:53 pm
Proposed new housing for East Hoathly

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

Developers are appealing on the grounds of non-determination, as the application was withdrawn from an agenda ahead of the submission of the new Wealden local plan.

However, the council says, details of the emerging plan put the site just outside of East Hoathly’s new development boundary, with planning officers recommending the committee oppose the appeal as a result.

In a report to the committee, a council planning officer said: “Although East Hoathly has a development boundary in the emerging plan, this site sits outside this such that it would also be in conflict with emerging policies.

“The proposal is contrary to the adopted and emerging local plan and would cause in combination impacts to the Ashdown Forest and Lewes Downs Special Areas of Conservation.

“There are no other material considerations that would indicate consent should be granted.”

Planning officers also say the new local plan (together with a number of sites which are awaiting legal agreement) would ‘rapidly’ bring up the district’s housing supply above the five year mark.

This would give extra strength to East Hoathly’s development boundary in planning terms, they say.

Developers, however, 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.”

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

The council’s response is to be agreed at next week’s planning committee south meeting .

The application has proven to be highly controversial with village residents, with 111 letters of objection submitted to council planners.

The letters raised a range of objections, including concerns around the damage to the unadopted Buttsfield Lane and to trees in the area.

Objections were also raised by East Hoathly and Halland Parish Council, which argued the area is unsuitable for housing due to its poor access.

For further details on the proposals and the appeal, see application reference WD/2016/2268/F on the Wealden District Council planning website.

Huw Oxburgh , Local Democracy Reporting Service