Self-build homes around flooded claypit at former Hamsey Brickworks site approved

Proposals for a self-build housing development around the edge of a flooded clay pit in South Chailey have been given the go ahead by Lewes planners.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 11:03 am

On Wednesday (July 7), Lewes District Council’s planning committee granted outline permission for up to 12 self-build houses around a flooded clay pit at the former Hamsey Brickworks site, off of South Road.

While approved, development the site had proven to be controversial with many local residents and Hamsey Parish Council. Among those to raise objections was ward councillor Isabelle Linington (Con).

In a letter read at the meeting, Cllr Linington said: “I objected to this application as soon as I knew about it. It is totally unnecessary development on a site that should be left in a natural state. Please do not be fooled by the glossy brochure and the labelling of these houses as custom build.

Indicative layout of proposed new homes at the former Hamsey Brickworks site
Indicative layout of proposed new homes at the former Hamsey Brickworks site

“The purchasers of these houses will have very little choice of how to build these houses as they will be restricted to one or two suppliers and will have to meet a design code. The choice will be how to put together boxes in a limited way.” 

She added: “I urge you to refuse this application on the basis that: this site is outside the planning boundary; the houses do not meet the definition of self/custom build; the area could be could be improved as a nature reserve or just left as it is; any biodiversity improvements will be offset by the disturbance to wildlife; and the development is not sustainable, as residents will have to rely on their cars.”

These concerns appeared to be shared by many of the committee members, with several voicing apprehension around the location, the lack of affordable housing and its impact on both biodiversity and the local habitat.

The committee also heard how it remained unclear whether 12 properties could definitely fit on the site, as an indicative design was considered unacceptable due to its potential impact on a nearby ancient woodland. 

Another element of the proposals which appeared to be troubling for members was an offer from the developers to pay up to £100,000 towards the construction of a footway connecting the site with Cooksbridge. 

Council officers said this contribution was not seen as necessary or requested by technical officers and as such could not lawfully be considered as part of the application.

Such was the apprehension, that an initial vote on granting outline planning was defeated. Despite this, as the debate continued, members could not agree on reasons for refusal which the committee felt confident in backing.

The stalemate was eventually broken after an intervention from Cllr Jim Lord (Con, Seaford North), who argued that many of the concerns could be given greater weight at the reserved matters stage.

He said: “To be honest with you, initially I did consider we should move away from this particular application. I now feel that the committee has no grounds to refuse it at this particular moment in time.

“I therefore think it would be better for everybody that we should allow this proposal in outline form, subject to the conditions which have been discussed in quite some detail this evening and I don’t think the developer has even considered at this moment in time.

“We should allow this proposal to go forward to its next stage and when it comes back to us as a full planning application, we will then be in the position to say we don’t like it because of x,y and z and the self-build criteria isn’t quite suitable.”

Following further discussion the application was granted outline planning permission with six votes for, one against and three abstaining. 

For further information on the proposals see application reference LW/20/0609 on the Lewes District Council website