Planners refuse Cross-in-Hand development

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Proposals to build houses on a small greenfield site in Cross-in-Hand have been refused by planners.

At a meeting on Thursday (August 23), Wealden District Council planners refused an application seeking to build two detached two-storey homes on a field in Back Lane.

Before making a decision, planners heard arguments against the application from local member Cllr Jonica Fox (Con. – Cross-in-Hand and Five Ashes), who had called in the application for consideration by the committee.

Cllr Fox said: “I have been working with officers for some time to progress towards an officer recommendation for refusal, so I am extremely pleased that is what we have on the table.

“The reason I’m bothering committee with it is that the sole reason for refusal at the moment hinges on the distance from the core development boundary identified in the current proposed Wealden local plan, which is out for consultation.

“I am concerned that [reason] on its own does not give enough weight for refusal and it is vulnerable, due to the very new status of that local plan, to an appeal.”

Cllr Fox also raised concerns around the design and massing of the proposed homes, as well as concerns about the impact on neighbouring properties.

Several other councillors also raised concerns about the proposals, with Cllr Phil Dixon (Con – Rotherfield) highlighting its location within the High Weald AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

Cllr Dixon said: “I don’t think we need to rely on the emerging local plan here at all. I think we have plenty of existing policies and the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) to support refusal.

“I think this committee has taken a stronger line in recent months over development in the AONB and I think that is a positive thing.

“This clearly is in line with some of our more recent decisions and I think I would be adverse to go against officers’ recommendations.”

Following further discussion of the application, the committee voted unanimously to refuse planning permission.

The committee gave a variety of reasons for refusal, including policies from both the emerging Wealden local plan and its current adopted policies.

While a member of the planning committee, Cllr Fox did not vote on the application due her conflict of interest as local member.