‘Pressure off’ releasing Lewes greenfield site for housing

Development plan, Old Malling Farm, Lewes SUS-150819-104450008
Development plan, Old Malling Farm, Lewes SUS-150819-104450008

Newly-produced papers have revealed that pressure may be off for releasing a greenfield site in Lewes for new housing.

The public inquiry into the “core strategy” jointly prepared by Lewes District Council and South Downs National Park was reopened in December to hear evidence on whether a site in the Ouse valley on the north side of Lewes should be allocated for development.

The site, known as Old Malling Farm, lies between Landport and Malling and had been suggested as a possible location for 200 houses earlier in the inquiry.

Now, though, the two local planning authorities, Lewes District and the National Park, have submitted an eight-page statement to the inquiry inspector demonstrating that house building rates in recent years, and the prospect of more in the pipeline, mean the Old Malling Farm site will not be needed in the near future.

This evidence has been warmly welcomed by both the South Downs Society and the Friends of Lewes, who have campaigned against developing this highly-sensitive site in the National Park.

South Downs Society Policy Officer, Steve Ankers: “The planners are obliged to show there is a five year supply of land available for housing, without which, permission is more likely to be granted on unsuitable sites like this one.

“Happily, the work that Lewes and the National Park have just carried out demonstrates that. Counting planning permissions granted recently, including North Street and Southdowns Road in Lewes, and the progress being made on the national park plan and neighbourhood plans, the housing targets for Lewes are being met without the need for the Old Malling Farm site.”

Chairman of the Friends of Lewes, Robert Cheesman, agreed. He said: “The evidence shows that the planners have been doing their job. We all recognise the need for some new, affordable housing but we don’t want to see development on this scale on greenfield sites. The town of Lewes and the South Downs National Park are very special places and we will continue to work to protect them. This new evidence is very positive news.”

Lewes District Council has been approached for a comment.

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