Wealden core strategy ‘disastrous’ for Uckfield and Crowborough

Ashdown Forest
Ashdown Forest
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Approval of the core strategy, including a ban on developing within 7km of Ashdown Forest, has been called ‘disastrous’ for Uckfield and Crowborough.

Wealden became the first planning authority in East Sussex to approve its core strategy last week.

It allows for the construction of 1,300 homes in Uckfield and Crowborough over the next 15 years while ensuring protection of Ashdown Forest.

Cllr Roy Galley, cabinet member for planning and development, said there was growing concern about increasing visitor numbers and nitrogen deposition from vehicles causing ‘irreversible damage’.

“However, we are determined that while maintaining our legal obligations to Continued on page 3

protect this site, we should not stifle local economic and community life,” he said.

Through traffic plans, changing work patterns and low emissions technology, he said solutions could be found to allow ‘necessary and appropriate’ development to continue within the 7km protection area.

Cllr Ken Ogden, district councillor for Buxted and Maresfield, said the strategy had been agreed but with a proviso of mitigation investigation into the most controversial part of it - the 7km zone - and there was funding to test nitrogen levels.

Meanwhile a Nutley resident who owns a three-room office building empty for a year now is paying more than £100 in rates per month and has been unadvised not to put in a planning application to convert it into a home until Wealden comes up with mitigation.

He is one of four clients of architect Mike Hill, of East Hoathly, who are in similar situations.

“There are many people relying on their businesses converting for alternative purposes or particularly building new homes all held up by the Ashdown Forest protection area,” he said.

“They can’t move forward until we receive information from Wealden about how they will overcome the problem.

“The government has instructed local companies to build new homes and now legislation is preventing them from doing so around the forest, which covers a large area.

“There are a lot of frustrated people around at the moment.”

Chris Lawson, of Lawson Commercial, called the strategy ‘absolutely disastrous for Uckfield and Crowborough’ and said he was ‘astonished’ it had been approved.

“Where’s the mitigation? he said. “There’s a blanket ban on development but Uckfield can have 1,000 new homes and Crowborough 300. What about everywhere else?

“Does Uckfield need another 1,000 houses?”

“What if companies want to expand and build new buildings. They won’t be allowed to. This is terribly short sighted.

“It will turn Wealden into a moribund area.”

Meanwhile builders had to drive across the forest to get to work while no development was allowed to go ahead locally.