On Thursday (June 23), Rother District Council’s planning committee refused an application to build a four-bedroom home on land to the north of a Grade II listed property known as Battle Great Barn, in Marley Lane.
The scheme was rejected on a number of grounds recommended by planning officers, including its location and its potential impact on the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the listed building.
While the scheme had been recommended for refusal by officers, the scheme had been brought to the committee in light of support from local councillors Kathryn Field and Kevin Dixon.
Cllr Field said: “I think you will all agree, I hope, that this is a really exciting building that will be built to very high environmental and sustainability standards and indeed tick all of our boxes for carbon neutrality, which as you know is something I am very keen on.”
She added: “I would agree with the applicant that this is a very spectacular building. It is well-shielded, it is on a site which was previously built on, it is not intruding into the green space.
“I think you should give this serious consideration and I hope when you have done that you will grant the permission.”
Similar arguments were made by Cllr Dixon, who also took issue with the officers’ assessment of the proposals. He argued the area around Marley Lane should be considered as a settlement, meaning the proposal could be considered to be an infill development.
He said: “The question for this committee is what is more important? Some planning policies which may not be fit for purpose or genuine carbon neutral sustainable development.”
Before making its decision, the committee also heard from applicant Neil Mortimer, who spoke about his design for the new build and stressed its environmental credentials.
He also disputed some of the officers’ conclusions, particularly their opinion that access to the site was deemed unacceptable due to the need to remove trees and hedgerows. He argued this view was not supported by East Sussex Highways.
While the proposal saw some support, the committee as a whole felt the proposals could not be approved as it would be in conflict with the council’s existing planning policies.
Cllr Andrew Mier (Lib Dem) said: “I accept completely that it is a beautiful house and I am quite happily prepared to believe that in terms of environment it is very, very well designed and very good.
“But the fact is it is contrary to [planning] policy. It may be that our policies will change within the next few years, it may be that we do need a more flexible policy, but for the moment we don’t have it. That policy needs to be carefully considered and we really can’t make up policy on the hoof. It is not the way to approach planning.”
For further details see application reference RR/2020/240/P on the Rother District Council website.