Wealden must prosper despite rule

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WEALDEN District Council says it’s working hard to address problems caused by limitations on new development within the seven kilometre boundary of the Ashdown Forest.

The Express has received dozens of complaints about the newly introduced policy which has hit churches, a village hall, the Uckfield business park and small builders.

A council spokesman explained the constraints are founded on the legal requirements of the European Union’s Habitat Regulations embodied in the Council’s emerging planning policy, the Core Strategy.

Planning cabinet member Cllr Roy Galley said: “We are aware of the frustration which some developers and individuals feel when looking to build within the environmental protection area around the Forest. I am hoping to invite early views about possible mitigation measures from both Uckfield and Crowborough Chambers of Commerce while we await the deliberations of the Planning Inspector.

“The economic sustainability of the District cannot be ignored. We want positive growth in keeping with economic, social and environmental progress. We are increasing the Council’s capacity to allow in-depth monitoring of nitrogen deposition impact and visitor pressures. The work has begun and we expect to be able to provide further information about the mitigation of recreational pressures in the autumn.

“Wealden is determined to achieve a position where all concerned can achieve a shared understanding of how the need for growth can best be met while observing the legal duty to protect our sensitive and envied environment.”

A spokesman explained the duty applies because of the sensitive environment of the Forest, the largest area of lowland heath in the South East. Although subject to the highest level of protection, the Forest habitat is deteriorating due to environmental pressures including nitrogen from vehicle exhausts and recreational pressures. The Council is required to limit further damage while allowing for necessary growth in housing, employment, community and leisure facilities.