Homes near Heathfield in High Weald AONB are refused

Proposals for a small-scale housing development in Broad Oak have been refused by Wealden planners.

On Wednesday (May 11), Wealden District Council’s Planning Committee South refused proposals to build four houses on land off of Street End Lane.

The proposed scheme would have seen four dwellings built, with two four-bedroom homes sitting either side of a pair of semi-detached three-bedroom homes.

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While the scheme had been recommended for approval, the committee had concerns about its impact on the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Artist's impression of the proposed homes in Broad Oak

Among those to raise concerns was ward councillor Susan Stedman (Con), who said: “We cannot not build in the AONB, I really believe in that. If we just carry on building on the Low Weald we will end up with a real us and them situation.

“There must be building in the AONB, but I think it needs debate and really careful consideration on what we do.

“There are other houses on this side of the road, but there are a number of bungalows that will look down on it. It will block up an important landscape gap if this is built on.”

Officers took the view that the scheme would create some harm to the local landscape, but that this harm would, on balance, be mitigated by the high quality of the scheme’s design.

While some members agreed that the scheme was of a good design, the majority of the committee felt the site was not appropriate for development.

Cllr Stephen Shing (Independent Democrat) said: “This application is almost perfect, unfortunately it is located in the AONB. As the public speaker repeatedly mentioned, our local plan is to protect and enhance the AONB area.

“I think we should enforce the policy, not to develop on it.”

As a result, it was refused on the grounds that it would be outside of the development boundary and have an unacceptable impact on the AONB.

It was also argued that the scheme was not sustainable due its reliance on private cars, but this was not included as a reason for refusal.

For further information on the proposals see application reference WD/2021/2109/F on the Wealden District Council website