Ringmer development refused as it would 'ruin village feel'

Unpopular proposals for a major housing development in Ringmer have been turned down.

On Wednesday (August 3), Lewes District Council’s planning committee considered an application from developer Thakeham Homes to build 68 homes on land opposite Bishop’s Close.

While it had been recommended for approval by planning officers, councillors unanimously refused the application after citing a wide range of concerns, including its design and potential impact on infrastructure.

Among those to raise concerns was ward councillor Emily O’Brien (Green), who said: “This development is not policy-compliant, it is outside the Local Plan and makes a mockery of the Neighbourhood Plan. It is unattractive, unimaginative and unsustainable. “I believe a refusal will be completely defensible at appeal and I would encourage you to do so.”

She added: “I urge you to vote against this harmful development because it falls so far short of the requirements of both national and our local planning policy.”

Cllr O’Brien went on to raise concerns about the impact of cumulative housing developments in Ringmer on two key elements of local infrastructure: the ability of Southern Water to handle sewage and the traffic capacity of Earwig Corner junction in Lewes.

Similar concerns had been raised by Cllr O’Brien’s fellow ward councillors Johnny Denis (Green) and Sean MacLeod (Lib Dem), Ringmer Parish Council and the CPRE.

Developers, however, argued that their modelling showed the junction could cope with the additional traffic from the scheme. Southern Water had not objected to the proposals.

Artist's impression of the proposed 68-home development in Ringmer

During the debate, the committee heard the developer’s traffic modelling had not been fully examined by East Sussex Highways, but that it had also not raised an objection to the proposals. In light of this, officers had recommended approval subject to further sign-off from highways.

Ultimately, however, the committee felt the scheme was unacceptable and unanimously refused the proposal.

It made its decision on the grounds that it would be an overdevelopment with poor design and that there was insufficient evidence to show the Earwig Corner could cope with additional traffic.

Proposing refusal, Cllr Richard Turner (Con) said: “It is a greenfield site. We shouldn’t be building on greenfield sites in this day and age.”

He added: “We don’t know if Earwig Corner can cope. It is having development after development. Let’s see if it can cope before we start building more and more houses. [But] we know for a fact, anyone who lives locally, that Bishops Lane cannot cope. It is what it is; it is a lane.

“[The proposal] is outside the planning boundaries, infrastructure is just not there and it is going to ruin Ringmer’s village feel. All these developments are well on the way to doing it, so I propose we reject this.”

The decision was met with applause from the public gallery.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr MacLeod said: “I am deeply grateful to the committee for rejecting this application unanimously. It is a great win for the people of Ringmer.

“It is time developers took notice and realised they are not going to get their way, Ringmer wants to remain a village and we won’t be druv.”

For further information on the proposals see application reference LW/21/0694 on the Lewes District Council website.