Here’s why Stone Cross developments will have to be reconsidered

A decision to refuse a controversial housing scheme in Stone Cross has been overturned, following an intervention by Historic England.

On June 17, Wealden District Council’s planning committee south considered two applications for development at Sharnfold Farm, off of Hailsham Road.

One scheme sought permission to build 31 houses, the other to convert a number of agricultural buildings into a new business centre. The housing scheme was refused, but the business centre proposals were approved. 

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The day after the meeting, however, two agricultural buildings at the heart of the site were named as Grade II listed properties by Historic England The council now says this move means both schemes should be reconsidered in light of the new circumstances.

Proposed layout for 31 homes in Stone Cross

A council spokesman said: “Legal advice is that both applications at Sharnfold now have to be remitted back to committee so councillors can view the scheme with the benefit of that knowledge.

“The applications will go back to committee in the near future. In the meantime the applicant has been asked to respond to this change in circumstances.”

Historic England listed two buildings on the site, a cartshed and a threshing barn, both built sometime in the late 18th to early 19th century. 

Given the listing, developers will need to demonstrate that their proposals take into account any potential impact on these buildings and their surroundings.

While both are standalone applications, the proposals had been included as an element of a wider 400-home scheme, for which developers had sought a screening opinion last year.

This screening application had seen a number of concerns raised during the initial planning hearing, with committee members and ward councillor Alastair Douglas (Con) arguing that the proposals were the first steps in a far larger development.

Both schemes had also proven to be unpopular with a large number of local residents.

Despite this both schemes had been recommended for approval by planning officers, who cautioned against refusal due to concerns about defending such a decision at appeal.

For further information on the housing proposals see application reference WD/2020/2047/MAO on the Wealden District Council website. For details of the business centre see reference WD/2020/1994/MAJ and for the screening opinion see application reference WD/2020/6505/SO.