Major Polegate housing scheme approved

Artist's impression of what the new homes might look like
Artist's impression of what the new homes might look like

Plans for a major housing development in Polegate have been granted outline planning permission this week.

At a meeting on Thursday (August 16), Wealden District Council planners considered an application seeking outline planning permission to build up to 108 houses on land off Shepham Lane.

Before making their decision councillors heard arguments in favour of the plans from Katie Lamb – agent for developer Welbeck Strategic Land –  as well as arguments against from Polegate resident Raymond Hale.

Mr Hale said:  “We are all aware that the area around us will eventually be developed.  It is a sad indictment of the times that we choose to destroy our countryside for future generations.

“The residents of this area feel strongly that the development has all trappings of an out-of-area developer attempting to erect 108 houses as cheaply as possible in order to maximise profit.”

Mr Hale went on to detail his specific objections to the plans, raising particular concerns around road safety and access to the site.

He also cast doubts on reports that the development would not see an increased parking demand on the surrounding area.

He said: “In conclusion this development is unwanted and unwelcome and I urge the council to reject this proposal and ask for a new access point to be considered if it is resubmitted.”

Responding to Mr Hale’s concerns around access, Ms Lamb highlighted plans to ‘upgrade’ the road accessing the site.

Ms Lamb said: “The site has been subject to vigorous site assessment to ensure a scheme can be delivered within the constraints and opportunities of the site and will deliver housing to meet local needs.

“The highways authority has approved the access design and agree with our transport assessment that subject to improvements to local junctions – funding for which will be secured through CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) – then the development can be accommodated within the local highway network.”

Ms Lamb added that part of the development is on an identified site within the draft Wealden Local Plan while the remainder is within an area considered acceptable for development.

She urged the committee to approve the plans and highlighted the developer’s intention to contribute to mitigation measures to offset damage to nearby special areas of conservation including the Ashdown Forest.

The committee also heard from local councillor Angela Snell (Con, Polegate North) who highlighted some of the concerns raised by Polegate Town Council.

She also raised her own concerns about access to the site. Cllr Snell said: “As we have already heard the access from Levett Road and Shepham Lane is very, very tight.

“Currently the right turn from Levett Road into Shepham Lane – and the other way round – is often difficult and often made worse by people parking there.

“These roads are not suitable to take extra traffic.”

Cllr Snell – who sits on the planning committee but did not take part in the vote – also spoke about road safety, highlighting the proximity of the Cuckoo Trail. She raised concerns about the possibility for a ‘serious accident’ involving walkers or cyclists using the popular nature trail.

During the debate, councillors heard more about the road safety arrangements and were told that conditions would be put in place preventing construction from going ahead until further details on the access arrangements were agreed by East Sussex County Council.

The committee approved the plans – nine in favour to two against – granting outline planning permission for the development. All further details, including design and site layout, are to be decided at a later date.