Detailed plans for 250 houses at Ridgewood Farm, Uckfield, came under fire last night (July 24) at a meeting of the town council’s plans committee.
Committee chairman, Cllr Barry Mayhew, Independent, New Town, said it was clear the properties were not being built for the people of Uckfield.
There were general concerns over the amount of affordable housing.
The outline planning permission for the whole 1,000 homes development has a requirement for 15 per cent affordable housing, which is 20 per cent below the Wealden District Council’s usual demand.
In this case, a lower figure was agreed because of the extra costs the developer faces, which includes provision of green areas to try persuade people away from the protected Ashdown Forest.
Chamber of Commerce concerned
During public speaking on the plan, Gareth Looker, vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, said a study by a group of members showed the affordable accommodation was only nine percent when considering the number of bedrooms.
Mr Looker said local businesses were concerned that there would be a shortage of labour which could have a drastic implication on Uckfield town as commercial centre.
Two other members of the public also expressed worries over the lack of affordable housing in the plan.
Committee members were also concerned about the lack of infrastructure.
Housing need for local youngsters
Cllr Mayhew told the committee: “There are a lot of concerns. Looking at the properties they are building, to me, this is not building for the people of Uckfield. This is building for people that are going to move to Uckfield.
“We are going to need housing for our youngsters.
“As everyone else has said, the infrastructure is not there. We don’t know anything about doctors’ surgeries, schools, especially the secondary school which is overflowing.”
Cllr Chris Macve said East Sussex County Council had some years ago said the Uckfield by-pass was at capacity .
The overall plan for the development to accommodate the 1,000 houses and increased traffic movements was to make the access on to the Little Horsted roundabout, the Copwood roundabout and the Blackdown roundabout twin lane entrances and “that will accommodate all the extra traffic movements”.
A22 by-pass works
He added: “I cannot see anything in this application as to when they are likely to do this work on the by-pass to improve these roundabouts and supposedly accommodate all the additional traffic.”
He was also worried about the access proposed on the Lewes Road, opposite Ridgewood House.
“It is right on the bend and in my opinion in a very dangerous position,” he said.
He said he assumed the developers had negotiated with the county council about the location and it must be acceptable.
Cllr Macve understood there would be traffic calming coming down (south) Ridgewood hill but still thought it was in a “very, very dangerous position”.
Cllr Donna French, Trust Independent, Uckfield North, said a quarter of the site would be developed before any a new primary school or medical centre was provided.
Uckfield Town Council will tell the planning authority, Wealden District Council, that it does not support the application because of concerns over affordable housing, roads access and the lack of infrastructure.
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