Update on Tuesday, March 15: A bid to slice 75 per cent off the ‘roof tax’ for 146 new homes at Mallard Drive, Ridgewood, was successful last week.
A report to Wealden District Council’s planning committee, north, on Thursday, March 10, recommended a cut from £10,000 per dwelling to £2,500 per dwelling. This was agreed.
The report also recommended removing a requirement for a bus access and route through the site and a requirement for upgrading the hospital access road to the north of the development site. These measures were approved too.
On the other hand an officer’s report to a meeting of the council’s planning committee, north, recommended securing a financial contribution towards the provision of Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANGS) and Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy (SAMMS), both designed to protect the Ashdown Forest, and to the provision of a traffic plan. This was approved.
From an Uckfield News story on Wednesday, March 9: Developers of the new homes at Mallard Drive, which have not yet been built, say that the overall cost of the town centre improvement scheme promoted by East Sussex County Council will be lower than predicted when the 2008 permission was granted.
A report to councillors says: “They argue that if the aforementioned contribution was reduced the town centre improvements could still be afforded from the suggested modified contribution of £2,500 per unit (or £365,000 in total) when combined with the existing remaining balance from other permissions in the local area that have served to fund the same improvements.”
A previous bid, in 2013, by the developer of land at Eastbourne Road to have their contribution reduced was refused and the highways authority, within the county council, wanted to see the Mallard Drive reduction similarly refused.
The authority said there were a number of schemes forming the total package of works for traffic management in Uckfield which could be delivered individually as the next stages as funds allowed.
- Tesco roundabout improvements
- Additional bus services
- Creation of cycle routes to and from the town centre
- 20mph zone (part of stage 2)
- Waitrose car park access improvements (completed at stage 1)
- Pedestrian crossing in Church Street
The authority argued: “These elements are still considered relevant and necessary and council be delivered individually as the next stages as funds allow. At this point the total for all schemes is circa £4m.
But the Wealden District Council S106 contributions officer had no objection to the reduction in contribution.
The officer’s comments included in a report to the planning committee north, say: “I confirm that the contributions towards SANGS and SAMMs are absolutely necessary in order to mitigate the proposed impact of the development, when considered in combination with other planned growth, on the Ashdown Forest SPA.
“The contributions sought (£5,000 towards SANGS and £1,170 towards SAMMS) are calculated in accordance with the council’s planned expenditure on these strategic mitigation methods and are therefore proportionate to the scale of the development.”
The officer says, in relation to highways issues, that the highways authority has been seeking contributions towards town centre improvements to alleviate traffic congestion in the centre of Uckfield since production of the non-statutory local plan in 2005.
“Throughout the following years WDC on behalf of ESCC sought and collected in excess of £3m.
“In May 2014, following a request for funding from ESCC, WDC paid over £2,510,104.18 to pay for the three planned stages of the town centre improvements.
“This breaks down as the following payments from five sites:
- Grampian, Five Ash Down: £230,948.37
- Eastbourne Road: £1,716,339.49
- Park Farm, Maresfield: £246,411.2
- Great Totease Farm, Buxted: £9,887.84
- Sandpits, Uckfield: £306.417.45
“In addition a further £77,000 was spent in December 2014 towards the implementation of ANPR cameras for theWDC car park at Luxford Field as part of the implementation of the Network Rail car park completed in association with Stage 1.
WDC still hold a sum of approximately £493K town centre improvement monies, plus a further £394k LAix FROM THE Eastbourne Road development to be spent on town centre and sustainable transport improvements.
“To date ESCC have made no request for these funds, provided no detailed programme of works, no detailed schedule of costings or been specific about the likely use of this £887k.”
The contributions officer says that on the basis that ESCC says the total pot for all schemes would be circa £4m and that the council has already been provided with £2,510,104.18 and the district council holds a further £887k this brings the total potential spend to £3.4m without the Mallard Drive development.
“On this basis there is simply no justification for continuing to collect £10k per dwelling or up to £1.4m.”
See the full report to the Wealden planning committee, north, here.
Uckfield Town Council has opposed the reduced contributions. See Uckfield News story here: Bid to cut ‘tax’ on Mallard Drive, Ridgewood, development opposed.