Councillors are being recommended to approve plans for 119 new homes on the Harlands Estate, Uckfield.
The reserved matters planning application is due to be considered by Wealden Council’s planning committee north next Thursday, November 14.
Some changes are sought to details such as to the layout of the homes, to address issues of tracking and road width, and including additional visitor parking.
And conditions are recommended such as beginning the development no later than two years from the date of a decision notice.
Other conditions include receiving details of electric vehicle charging points at the site, as part of efforts to mitigate vehicles crossing the Ashdown Forest, and details of the ability of all dwellings to connect to high speed broadband.
Outline plans for 146 homes on the site off Mallard Drive were approved in 2008 but while a reserved matters application was registered complete in 2013 discussions have continued since then because of emerging concerns about the impact of development on the forest.
The development was dependent on Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space being delivered from the Ridgewood Farm development and that wasn’t approved until March 2016.
By this time a new developer had taken over at Harlands and was discussing detailed layout and design with the council.
The reserved matters application now before the council is for 119 homes, with 30% of them being affordable.
A report to the planning committee says: “The scheme has significantly reduced the amount of development from the outline approval from 146 dwellings to 119.
“The layout of the scheme has had careful regard to the topography, sought to minimise impacts on the ancient woodland, and has provided a much more landscape dominated development to that previously proposed.”
East Sussex County Council’s Highways Department has objected to the plan because of “insufficient information”.
It says the past 13 years have seen changing circumstances concerning traffic in Uckfield which would need to be considered if this were a fresh application.
Road safety update
The department wants a road safety update for the site access, details of non-motorised routes to the north and west and confirmation that connection to a footpath is deliverable.
It wants confirmation that roads are to be adopted, says internal tracking constraints need attention as does cycle parking provision for flats and parking and access requirements for a pumping station.
The highways department also asks about a construction traffic management plan regarding the proximity to Harlands Primary School, and a travel plan.
The county council says information about flood risk management is “satisfactory” and the proposed development is capable of managing flood risk effectively though there will be a need for standard conditions.
The police say that, in general terms, they support proposals for the application which has created outward facing dwellings with good active frontage over the streets and public places.
They ask for secure rear garden gates to be lockable from both sides and brought forward to the front of the building line.
They want communal parking to be within view of an active room – such as a kitchen or living room – within a property; and say it is important to maintain natural surveillance of play areas.
Uckfield Town Council and 58 neighbours raised concerns including about the principle of development, infrastructure, traffic, the environment, flooding and drainage.
The report to the planning committee says Wealden Council has screened the application and is of the opinion that the development would not give rise to significant environmental effects.
It is satisfied the proposed development:
- would not be out of context with its existing environment;
- would have no significant impact upon relevant natural resources and any waste, pollution or hazard associated with the scheme can be effectively controlled by condition;
- would not cause any significant loss of valuable agricultural land,
- would not impact upon any area of flood protection and will not compromise or undermine any acknowledged asset of natural, ecological heritage, landscape or cultural value within the site’s vicinity.
The report says the principle of development and access into the site was established by the outline planning permission.
It says the highways objection “due to insufficient information” has not had regard either to conditions attached to the outline planning permission or the obligations for off-site works secured through the legal agreement.
“The information county are seeking is normally provided through the discharge of conditions or through the details submissions required under the legal agreement and therefore it is considered there is no justification for a change in approach on this particular reserved matters application.”
The report says highways concerns about traffic issues that may have emerged since outline planning permission was granted are considered unjustified.
It also says the county council is incorrect in its assertion that the development does not meet its previous sustainable transport obligations.
The report says bus stops would be improved, the development would provide £80,000 a year for three years towards improving bus services, and it would provide £297,000 towards town centre improvements.
It would also provide off-site footpath works to link the site with Harlands Primary School, and Framfield Road and the development would be submitting a travel plan.
The full report about the planning application (WD/2013/0415/MRM) before Wealden’s planning committee north can be seen on the Wealden Council website along with more details about the scheme and comments on it.