Wealden planners have refused an application to redevelop a disused rural builder’s yard near Buxted.
On Thursday (April 4), Wealden District Council’s planning committee south refused proposals to build a single family dwelling on land next to Tanyard’s Farmhouse in Framfield Road, after demolishing a number of disused agricultural buildings on the site.
While no objections were raised over the building’s design or its impact on the surrounding area, the committee opted to refuse the application as it would go against polices in the recently submitted Wealden Local Plan.
Before making its decision the committee heard from Mr Brian Huxley, the applicant. He said: “Tanyard’s Farmhouse has been in my family for almost 30 years now.
“As the site has not been farmed since the late 1970s, the former agricultural buildings have fallen into a state of disrepair to the point the buildings have either collapsed or become dilapidated and unstable.
“There is a significant amount of asbestos on the site and there is rubble from the former buildings and hardstanding. All of which need to be addressed to enhance the ecological status of the site.”
Mr Huxley added that his parents have lived in the existing farmhouse – which would remain after the redevelopment – since the 90s and the house would allow him and family to live nearby and support them living there.
The application was also supported by local councillor Philip Lunn (Con. – Buxted and Maresfield).
He said: “If you have visited the site you will have realised there are [a number of] substantial buildings that have asbestos and environmental issues.
“To me this is a classic brownfield site, where the previous site is no longer viable or usable, and this is an opportunity for this council to be proactive in cleaning up the site and providing housing.
“It has the support of the parish council, it has the support of neighbours and it has the support of my counterpart as ward member.
“I think we have the opportunity to do something innovative, clean up this site and do something for this local family.”
The arguments in favour of development won support from many committee members, with Cllr Bob Bowdler saying he could see ‘no downside’ to the proposals.
However, the committee heard from officers that approving the scheme would ‘go directly against’ a number of policies contained in its recently-submitted local plan – potentially opening it up to challenge.
In light of this the majority of the committee agreed with the recommendation to refuse the application.
Committee chairman Johanna Howell said: “I would remind members of this committee that we have quite a few of this sort of thing in our area.
“We must be careful what we do, because it would open up a can of worms.”
Cllr Howell directed her comments specifically to Cllr Phil Dixon, saying she was concerned about an area within his Rotherfield ward.
Despite these concerns, the application was only narrowly rejected by four votes to three.