Large Ringmer development labelled ‘speculative’ as decision is due

Outline proposals for a major housing development in Ringmer are set to go before Lewes planners next week. 

Monday, 1st November 2021, 3:57 pm
Indicative layout of the proposed 97-home Ringmer development

On Wednesday (November 10), Lewes District Council’s planning committee is set to consider an outline application seeking permission to build up to 97 homes on land to the south of Lewes Road and Laughton Road. 

While only outline proposals, the developer’s plans would see affordable housing, a community hub and public toilets built on the site. It would also include ecological mitigations.

In a design and access statement, a spokesman for the developer said: “This outline planning application proposes the redevelopment of a site that is a logical extension of the Broyleside development boundary.

“Part of the site has already been assessed … and found to be ‘suitable, available and achievable’. This includes the part of the site that currently accommodates an industrial shed and yard and so should be considered as having been previously developed.

“The proposed development will enable the bio-diversity of the site to be enhanced in a manner that will reinforce the existing site boundaries and provide much needed community facilities and appropriately sized housing in this sustainable location.”

The application has seen some significant objections from local residents, with fears around infrastructure pressures and impact on the highways network.

Objections have also been raised by ward councillors Sean MacLeod and Emily O’Brien, who argue the scheme would see Ringmer grow beyond the level of development set out in the village’s neighbourhood plan. 

Cllr MacLeod said: “I think it’s very important that Lewes District Council decides where it sees Ringmer village status. If it wants Ringmer to become a town then we need a meeting to discuss the ways that Lewes District Council are going to meet the infrastructure demands that a town needs; that Ringmer has the amenities for what a small town needs. 

 “I can’t support the district council in allowing this development without a clear plan on where it sees Ringmer and a discussion with local residents on the future of its village status, many who are greatly upset that Lewes District Council are trying to erode it. 

“We must support our villages and keep our green spaces. Any further expansion should be through the local plan process not via speculative development.”

Ringmer Parish Council has also objected to the scheme, although it has not yet submitted its formal reasons for objection.

As an outline scheme, the application only seeks approval for the principle of development, with all other matters reserved for a later decision. As a result, officers say the final number of houses could fall short of 97 once more detailed plans come forward.

One reason for this could be that East Sussex Highways have concerns about the impact of additional housing on the junction at Earwig Corner, which is currently set to undergo improvement works as part of another housing development.

As the junction works have not yet been completed, East Sussex Highways says it cannot yet model what impact the additional houses will have. Officers say the final number of houses could be reduced as a result of this modelling. 

Concerns have also been raised around the impact of the development on the South Downs National Park. Even so, officers say the benefits of additional houses would outweigh this impact.

In a report to be considered by the committee, a council planning officer said: “Overall, subject to all the details and mitigations, the proposed benefits of the scheme would outweigh the harms.

“Therefore, the proposal is considered to be acceptable and is recommended for approval.”

For further information on the application see reference LW/21/0302 on the Lewes District Council website.