Uckfield commercial agent Chris Lawson has welcomed the Court of Appeal judgement on Wealden District Council’s 7km Ashdown Forest rule.
“Common-sense has prevailed,” he said.
And that view was backed by Maresfield parish councillor, Ken Ogden, who has also been a critic of the rule.
Cllr Ogden said: “It needed a hammer taking to it and the judge has given it a hammer.”
Development halted in north Wealden
The appeal has forced the district council to abandon a rule restricting development close to the Forest without the provision of mitigation, known as SANGS. See earlier report here
Mr Lawson said it was “council spin” to call it a technical defeat because it was a core part of the policy.
“Their sledgehammer approach has not worked. It has stopped development in north Wealden,” he said.
What Chambers of Commerce were fighting for
The result was what both the Uckfield and Crowborough Chambers of Commerce were fighting for, he said.
Mr Lawson expects schemes which have been “on ice” to be brought forward, especially where development has permitted rights but has been stopped by the 7km rule.
An example would be a suite of offices above a shop which now have permitted rights to change into a flat(s) but were halted because of the exclusion zone.
Developers would also be looking at dusting off smaller schemes.
Not a trivial matter for Wealden
Mr Lawson said schemes would still have face up to the nitrogen problem but he believed there was “plenty of headroom” to allow some developments to now proceed.
Cllr Ogden said: “For people who have suffered because of this rule, it is a wonderful day.
He too said it was not a trivial matter for Wealden.
He believed “small conversions” would now be able to go ahead – schemes which in normal times would easily gain planning approval.
April Cottage at Buxted, a former doctors’ surgery which was refused permission to return to domestic use, is one plan that Cllr Ogden believes would now be able to go ahead.
“It’s ridiculous you cannot live in it. In fact, the whole thing was ridiculous,” he told UckfieldNews.com.
He added that the builders had been particularly hard hit, many having to travel many miles for work since development dried up because of the 7km rule in the northern part of the district.