Decision expected on 205 homes plan

Update: Read about the council’s decision here: Councillors make decision on East Hoathly 205 homes plan.

Plans for 205 new homes to be built in open countryside at East Hoathly are recommended for approval by Wealden Council’s planning committee south which meets today.

A report says the proposal for Hesmonds Stud, Waldron Road, and land off Ailies Lane, has been under consideration for “some considerable time” during which it has been revised and supplemented.

This Google Earth image gives you an idea of where 205 homes could be built in East Hoathly.

The plan now before the committee includes 35% of the homes (72 of them) being affordable, and 5% (ten units, rounded down) being custom and self-built.

A report says reference to a hybrid application in submissions, and part of the site extending Allies Lane, are no longer part of the case. They were withdrawn in 2018.

Nine fields

The site to be considered is north of London Road, about 30 acres in size, across nine fields which are currently in equestrian use, and an area which includes an equestrian worker’s dwelling, stables, and a horse walker.

The report describes the site as being outside the development boundary set in 1998, but says the council does not have a five-year housing land supply and the issue of housing delivery is considered to be “a significant material consideration in favour of the application that outweighs the policy conflict”.

Historic England and Wealden’s Conservation and Design Officer have objected to the proposals.

Harm

Historic England says the development would cause “a high-level of harm to East Hoathly Conservation Area, and some harm to several listed buildings”.

It says the harm to heritage significance “has not been adequately assessed or minimised. There is neither a convincing justification for the harm which would be caused nor effective mitigation proposed.”

The body, which champions and protects England’s historic places says a much smaller scheme, utilising only part of the site, and showing a greater understanding of the nature of East Hoathly as an historic settlement, may be feasible, subject to appropriate design.

Level

When pressed to specify the level of harm that could be caused Historic England says “less than substantial”.

Wealden’s Conservation and Design Officer echoes the Historic England views of Historic England.

Woodland Trust objects to the plan because of proposed disturbance and deterioration to Alders wood and ancient woodland.

There are no objections from Natural England, the Highway Authority, the County Archaeologist, East Sussex County Council as Lead Local Flood Authority, East Sussex County Council Rights of Way, East Sussex Fire and Rescue, Police, or Southern Water.

Overwhelming objection

East Hoathly Parish Council says it reflects the “overwhelming objection” to the application expressed by residents of East Hoathly with Halland.

It is most concerned that access via Waldron Road, and the later withdrawal regarding Ailies Lane seem to have been overlooked.

“The application title and submitted documentation do not correspond and lead to some confusion over intention.”

The parish council continues: “Proposed development will encroach on Conservation Area, contrary to the Wealden District Council Climate Emergency Plan received.

Disappointing

“Continued re-submission extremely disappointing and frustrating especially as still no response received regarding Waldron Road and Allies Lane.”

The parish council adds that since the original application infrastructure in the village has deteriorated with the loss of a pub, Sunday bus service, and development on this scale will add to the decline.

Chiddingly Parish Council objects too saying the application is likely to affect the volume of traffic on the lanes/roads of Chiddingly.

Serious concerns

‘We have serious concerns on the added traffic to the A22, and the effect on traffic in the country lanes caused by congestion on the A22. In addition we have concerns on the impact to infrastructure this development will cause.”

More than 900 letters have been received between December 2016 and June 2020 relating to different versions of the application, and raising a long list of concerns which can be seen in a report going to the planning committee south today.

Wealden’s housing department supports the application because of the provision for 72 units of “much needed affordable housing”.

Mix

It requests a mix of 35% one bedroom flats, 40% two-bedroom houses, 20% three-bedroom houses, and 3% four bedroom houses, and some one bedroom bungalows aimed at downsizes, or those with limited mobility.

That mix, the department says, would reflect the need on the Housing Register and contribute to a balanced and sustained community.

Conditions, if the plan is approved, are sought by Wealden Footpaths, the council’s drainage engineer, and pollution control.

Support

A report to Wealden’s planning committee south concludes that the East Hoathly development boundary must be considered to be out of date and the site is within a settlement where the council has recently been keen to support growth.

“The council cannot currently demonstrate a five-year housing land supply and so the presumption in favour of sustainable development applies, and the council must approve the application unless the adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrable outweigh the benefits.”

Approval subject to conditions is recommended.

See the full report to the committee on the Wealden Council website.

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