Housing on outskirts of Crowborough approved

Proposals to build housing on the outskirts of Crowborough have been given the go ahead by council planners.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 5:19 pm

On Thursday (May 20), Wealden District Council’s planning committee north approved an outline application to build two houses in place of a paddock and stables in Eridge Road. 

While approved, the scheme had seen some significant opposition from members, who felt it was an incursion into the countryside surrounding the town. 

Among those to speak out against the scheme was ward councillor Kay Moss (Independent). She said: “This site is outside the development boundary for Crowborough As the officer acknowledges in his report it should be refused under saved [planning] policies.

“The site is also wholly within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and will be a further loss of greenfields at the gateway to Crowborough.”

She added: “I appreciate that a development close to this within the AONB has already been granted, but in my mind two wrongs don’t make a right. 

“I believe that the harm outweighs the good on this application and for the reasons above, ask you to refuse it.”

Similar views were raised by several committee members, including Cllr Patricia Patterson-Vanegas (Green), who said: “I think the scale and extent of the development within the AONB should be limited.

“The problem I see here is that one by one by one, we are losing the AONB and when is it enough. 

“I think that is the way we need to look at this. Once we build on the AONB there will always be a neighbouring site in the AONB that will be in-keeping. When is the line in the sand?”

Despite concerns around the development boundary and impact on the AONB, planning officers had recommended the scheme be approved, largely due to the council’s lack of a five-year housing land supply. 

Head of planning Stacey Robins said: “We are now in a position where the National Planning Policy Framework does tell us to take into account the material considerations and that does include the age of the saved local plan, the very fact its policies are time expired and it doesn’t deliver sufficient growth.

“We are in the position of a dated development plan and as has already been said we have supported growth outside of the development boundary and in the AONB very close by and indeed at a greater scale.

“It is not something that we go to easily or lightly, accepting further growth outside the development boundary and within the AONB, but we do have to turn our minds to these material considerations.”

Planning officers also confirmed that the applicant had initially sought permission to build up to four houses on the site, but this figure was reduced to two following consultation with the council.

This view was shared by the majority of the committee, including Cllr Neil Waller (Con), who said: “Yes, it is right this site is within the AONB and it is not within the current development boundary of Crowborough.

“But as the officer has stated there are numerous examples in this vicinity – I can think of two large ones – where development outside the boundary and within the boundary has been accepted. Lawful decisions.

“In terms of sustainability, the Steel Cross site, which is very close to this has already shown us that this is a sustainable location.

“I’m pleased that the applicant has reduced from four houses to two. I think two houses of that size on that site is in-keeping with the local area. For all of these reasons, I can see no reason why we should refuse this.”

Following further discussions, the application was approved six votes to four.

As an outline scheme, the approval only covers the principle of building two houses on the site and creation of a new access road on to Eridge Road. Details of the design and the size of each building will need to be granted further planning permission at a later date. 

For more information on the application, see planning reference WD/2020/1549/O on the Wealden District Council website.