Major housing plans for Lower Horsebridge approved

Illustrative layout of homes east of Lower Horsebridge
Illustrative layout of homes east of Lower Horsebridge

Outline plans for a major housing development near Lower Horsebridge have been given the go ahead by planners this week.

At a meeting on Thursday (August 16), Wealden District Council planners considered an application seeking outline planning permission to build up to 110 houses on a greenfield site to the east of North Street.

As an outline application, the committee only considered the site’s access arrangements and the overall principle of development during the meeting. All other matters, including the design and site layout, will have to gain further planning approval before construction can begin.

Before making a decision the committee heard arguments against the development from lead petitioner Jasmine Gayton and arguments in favour from the developer’s agent Chris Frost.

During her representation, Mrs Gayton argued that the site is outside of the current development boundary and that while it is within the emerging Wealden Local Plan – which is currently out for representations – the document had not yet been adopted by the council.

Mrs Gayton said: “Lower Horsebridge is a village of about 80 houses and if we add around 110 houses it will change the character of the area forever. Surely that cannot be justified on housing need as there are so many unsold new properties in the area.”

Mrs Gayton also argued that the traffic and flood risk surveys considered as part the application were ‘out-of-date’ and did not reflect the current state of the site. She said the committee should not approval the development until a report on the cumulative impact of development could take place.

Mrs Gayton also spoke about the existing outline planning permission for 32 houses on the site, saying this would be a more appropriate level of development.

However Mr Frost argued the earlier planning permission only represented the first phase of the developer’s plans for the site and that details of site access and water drainage had already been approved as part of the earlier application.

Mr Frost said:  “We believe this is an excellent scheme and will provide much-needed, well-designed housing and is fully compliant with the adopted and emerging local plan policies.

“We trust that you are able to follow your officer’s recommendation to approve this application.”

The committee also heard from ward councillor David White (Independent – Hellingly), who raised concerns about the risk of flooding in the area and asked the committee not to grant planning permission until further studies could take place.

However, officers told the committee flood testing had been carried out on the site as part of the council’s work on the draft Wealden Local Plan and that drainage had been found to be acceptable. Officers also said the land had come through as a ‘preferred site’ through the local plan process.

Around 35 per cent of the houses on the site are expected to be classed as ‘affordable’ properties.

Following further questions the application was put forward for recommendation by Cllr Johanna Howell (Con. – Frant/Withyham) and approved by nine votes to one.

The outline planning permission is subject to a range of conditions which must be approved during future planning applications.