Controversial Uckfield sites could be put forward for housing again

Developers will have another opportunity to try and get permission to build hundreds of homes on controversial sites in Uckfield.

Wealden District Council is suggesting an “urban extension” of 1,000 new homes towards the A22 by-pass.

The area of land that could be developed, as we reported last week (links below), would be to the west of New Town between the Lewes Road and the line of the former Uckfield to Lewes railway.

It would stretch nearly to the A22 by-pass and in the other direction to near the Victoria Ground.

Details are contained in its draft Local Development Framework which has yet to be approved by councillors.

However, news of the suggested site to the west of New Town does not rule out landowners introducing other suggestions at a public hearing.

After Wealden councillors have approved the document, it will go before a planning inspector at an Examination in Public – in all likelihood held in the summer of next year.

The inquiry will look at the council’s plans for the whole district.

This is where people can express views both in favour and against the plan.

Downlands Farm

At this hearing, the owners of the Downlands Farm and Bird in Eye (north and south) sites could, if they wished, argue for their inclusion in the area’s development framework.

They have already been turned down by an inquiry inspector but that does not preclude them being put forward again.

Wealden councillors considered the draft plan at a meeting on Tuesday.

There were concerns over details such as the delivery of the infrastructure – new roads, schools, surgeries etc.

The report to councillors makes it clear that the infrastructure will have to be paid for by a “roof tax” on the new houses – and that the money only becomes available as homes are built and sold.

This means that there is likely to be a lag between houses being built and the infrastructure being provided.

In the current economic climate it is unlikely that local councils will have their own money to build new roads and schools and will rely on building up a pot of money from roof taxes to carry out the improvements needed.

Debate

There was also debate about the development of villages and smaller hamlets and the need for affordable housing.

“Windfalls” was another issue that concerned councillors. These are houses built without being part of the overall plan.

The question is: Do they count towards the overall total and thereby reduce the scale of the big developments?

The council is not allowed to predict “windfalls” but over a period of time can collect the figures and put them against the delivery of the plan.

“Windfalls” can vary in size – from the odd houses being built on spare land on the Manor Park estate, for example, to the new homes being built on the former Grampian site at Five Ash Down.

The plan will go for debate to further meetings of councillors in the coming weeks.

See previous stories:

One site for Uckfield’s 1,000 new homes

1,000 homes in draft blueprint

Reasoning behind future plans for Uckfield

See also:

Latest Uckfield news

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