THE Government’s recent publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) contains a presumption in favour of Sustainable Development.
Under the auspices of the NPPF, Wealden District Council should be working together with its communities to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of their areas, while safeguarding the prospects for future generations.
How inappropriate then to support the building of 35 houses, including the conversion of all farm buildings, on a piece of prime agricultural land? Currently, Ersham Farm, owned by the WE Vine Trust, is a viable, working farm providing employment for three people. The farm supplies locally produced lamb, beef, chicken and turkeys to our community, local farmers’ markets and other retail outlets. When the farm infrastructure goes, the farm will cease to exist – gone forever – its viability as a farm lost forever to future generations.
Ersham Farm is also home to a wealth of flora and fauna including bats, insects and birds. Pond life, for example newts and fish, will also suffer greatly under the proposal, so aside from the economic sustainability argument, there is also a strong environmental one. Hailsham Town Council Planning Committee voted unanimously against this planning proposal and a huge number of residents also objected. Several of the Wealden District Planning Committee councillors heard our argument, hence the deferral, but Wealden planning officers openly support the application regardless of all the sound factual sustainability arguments presented.
This country has lost too much farming capacity already. Hailsham has lost many farms over recent years. I do not believe we can afford to lose another – particularly one that contributes to the local economy and adds value to our environment. I do question whether our planning officers truly understand either the ethos or the genuine practicalities behind the sustainability requirement, but what they need to acknowledge is that national planning policy now requires this to be a consideration.
Many in Hailsham have already found their voices on this subject and it really is time to start to say NO to this thoughtless, destructive and short-sighted style of planning.
Angela Hollister, Hailsham