Councillors made a decision this morning on plans for 205 homes to be built in East Hoathly.
Members of the Wealden planning committee south have approved proposals for land at Hesmonds Stud, Waldron Road.
Seven councillors voted in favour of the outline application, the principle of development, and three against, there was one abstention and the local member Cllr Geoffrey Draper was not allowed to vote.
Councillors voting in favour included: Johanna Howell (Frant and Wadhurst), Angela Snell (Polegate), Richard Grocock, (Hailsham West), Philip Lunn (Crowborough South East), Brian Redman (Mayfield and Five Ashes), Susan Stedman (Horam and Punnets Town), and David Watts (Arlington).
Those voting against included: Gavin Blake-Coggins (Hailsham East), Neil Cleaver (Hailsham North West), and Peter Roundell (Maresfield).
Cllr Stephen Shing (Lower Willingdon), abstained.
An overview of the report which went to the committee can be seen in this Uckfield News report: Decision expected on 205 homes plan.
Grown up decisions
It was Cllr Howell who proposed the application be approved and Cllr Lunn seconded her.
Cllr Howell said it was time councillors faced up to making grown up decisions about planning applications.
“These committees are making very difficult decisions and I keep hearing from other councillors, refuse this one, put the houses somewhere else. Where? We don’t want them wherever they are.
“We don’t have a five year land supply. We have to have some control. If we don’t we will lose it, and have no control over anything.
“East Hoathly is as sustainable as any of our other villages, Horam has no facilities but thousands of houses, Frant had hundreds of houses.
“Thomas Turner Drive was one of the most controversial developments in East Hoathly and that seems to have settled down fairly well.
“South Street we turned down because of access to the A22. This site has marvellous access.”
She listed some of East Hoathley’s facilities, including: doctors’ surgery, pre-school, primary school, church, pub, restaurant, local shop with Post Office, “cafe with posh trinkets”, hairdressers … and the list went on.
“East Hoathly has what a lot of villages have, and probably a bit more.”
Cllr Howell said the committee should face up to making horrible decisions, follow the officer’s recommendation and approve the application.
Development manager Stacey Robins said the key point was the scale of growth of the objective assessment of housing need in Wealden of 1231 dwellings a year. “That is a lot, an awful lot”.
Mr Robins continued: “I have said elsewhere, and in public forums that’s a frightening amount of growth compared to what we have delivered over the years at Wealden.”
He said he was asked in a briefing sessions what numbers the core strategy envisaged and that was 450. “That doesn’t reflect full objectively assessed housing need. The submission plan which failed began with 950 with a kick up at the end of the plan period. That wasn’t enough for all the reasons we know.
“So that really does go to underpin and reinforce the need for growth everywhere across the district where sites are supportable.”
Cllr Geoffrey Draper pointed out that to build 205 homes in the historic village, which currently had 381 homes, was a 54% increase and that was a “huge problem”.
He said the proposal was outside the development area, and within the conservation area – though that claim was corrected by Mr Robins who said the land abutted the conservation area – and in the vicinity of four listed buildings.
Cllr Draper argued East Hoathly was not a sustainable location for the new homes. More than 75% of residents travelled outside the village to work because there were no local jobs, and the small primary school had been full up, with a waiting list, for ten years.
He said the village wasn’t against development but it should be sustainable and of sensible proportions.
Cllr Gavin Blake-Coggins said that quite recently another planning application for 50 homes in South Street, East Hoathly, was refused so why was the council now looking at approving more than 200 houses.
He said: “There are no facilities to support this type of development. This is far too huge for a very small village.”
He added councillors should take account of the fact that more than 900 people had objected to the application. “We have to listen to these people. We can’t just willy nilly decide to stick 200 houses here and there. It is just not on.”
Mr Robbins stressed that all feedback was taken into account. This type of development was always emotive.
He also pointed out that the South Street application was refused because it would have been overdevelopment of a backland location.