Retirement village scheme for South Chailey rejected

CHEERS and applause from the packed public gallery greeted news that controversial plans for a retirement village in South Chailey had been refused.

The issues of need and appropriate location proved the decisive factors for members of Lewes District Council’s Planning Committee in a sometimes heated two-hour debate.

They finally turned down the outline application for Gradwell Park, submitted by Manifold Investments Ltd and Retirement Villages Ltd, on an open countryside site south of Gradwell End, Chailey, and The Martlets.

The scheme was for a nursing and care home complex comprising 24 EMI (elderly and mentally infirm) rooms, 30 nursing rooms and 55 extra care flats, along with associated support facilities, landscaping and on-site parking provisions.

There had been widespread opposition to the scheme. The four local parish councils all objected to the application.

The website Action Against Gradwell Park described it as a vast “housing with care” facility on a protected greenfield site.

It said that effectively the developer wanted to build “a village within a village” in a project which would take three years to complete.

Critics said the proposal was outside the planning boundary and was contrary to national and local planning policies and guidance.

They said the site was unsuitable in relation to the local infrastructure – the road, public transport, sewage and waste collection systems, for example, would not be able to support the demands of the development.

The Action Against Gradwell Park website claimed that during the three years of building works the safety of children attending nearby Chailey School would be put at risk.

The location of the development was not suited to having site traffic on this scale, it said.

Describing the proposed development as “substantial, inappropriate and speculative”, it said it would impact not only on immediate neighbours but would also “adversely affect the wider community during the 3+ years of the site’s construction”.