April Cottage, Buxted. File photograph

April Cottage home battle won – but at a cost

April Cottage, Buxted, can be returned to a home but it will cost the applicants more than £6,700 to fulfil a planning condition.

Planning permission has been granted by Wealden District Council but with a condition that money is paid to mitigate the effect the use will have on the Ashdown Forest.

A previous application was refused because of the 7km Ashdown Forest rule which restricted development to help protect the forest.

The rule was eased after a High Court hearing.

Scheme of mitigation

However, Wealden planners have placed a condition on the grant of planning permission.

It will need to approve a “scheme to secure mitigation of the additional recreational pressures to the Ashdown Forest Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area, together with an appropriate mechanism to secure delivery of the mitigation”.

In a planning decision notice, the council said:

“The residential development is of a scale and nature to warrant a contribution towards the provision of recreational mitigation, which the local planning authority considers can be satisfactorily achieved by means of a contribution towards the formation of new greenspace (SANG) and improved management within the designated European sites (SAMMS).”

Former GP surgery

The council said the cost, in accordance with the council’s policies and guidance, would amount to £6,710.

April Cottage, which fronts the main A272 road, was converted from a home into a GP surgery in 1990. The return to residential use was refused in 2013 with an appeal being lost the following year on the grounds that the potential harm generated by recreational pressure from the change of use could not be mitigated.

Summarising the grant of planning permission at the end of last month, Wealden said:

“Progress made by the council since that decision in securing suitable avoidance and mitigation measures now allows a favourable determination of the scheme.”

*Buxted has a new medical centre which opened in 2012.

buxted_medical_centre_june14

Buxted Medical Centre

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