- Uckfield Town Council against 119 new homes off Mallard Drive
- Protesters told site has planning permission but council will object to the detailed approvals now being sought
- Plans meeting hears of how town’s infrastructure is stressed and unable to cope
- Ecology report “not fit for purpose”, resident says
Ridgewood residents won the support of Uckfield Town Council plans committee last night (September 30) in their fight against proposals for 119 new homes off Mallard Drive.
Around a dozen members of the public attended with five people giving their views from the public gallery.
The planning application under consideration is described as “reserved matters” and follows the grant of outline planning permission for 145 homes on the land in 2008.
See our earlier story where we gave news that Wealden District Council was extending the consultation period until October 18 for this latest application.
Residents listed many reasons at the plans meeting why the scheme should not go ahead, including the danger to children at Harlands Primary School and a general lack of infrastructure throughout Uckfield – GP surgeries, dentists, schools, sewers – at a time when construction of 1,000 new homes was under way at Ridgewood Farm.
Carol Baker, from Eagle Close, spoke of the traffic problems in Mallard Drive and went on:
‘We all know as Uckfield residents that congestion occurs in Uckfield.
“Today was a classic example. I couldn’t get down to the town to spend my money.
The queue at twenty-to-one was nearly back to the roundabout.
“Despite developments at Fernley Park, Sand Ridge and now Ridgewood, no improvements have been made, unless you count two very small roundabouts, to make residents’ any and town-users’ lives any easier.”
She read an extract from an East Sussex County Council transport study from 2011. It said traffic generated from new developments would significantly worsen congestion in the town centre.
The eight-year-old report said the roads were near capacity and the developments were likely to lead to a network which was over capacity which would lead to delays and pollution.
Steve Frost, of Mallard Drive, criticised the ecology reports accompanying the applications and has said in a letter to Wealden that they are not fit for purpose.
Mr Frost said the value of the land – now tussocky grassland had not been appreciated.
Mr Frost pointed out there was no mention of amphibians and had ignored insects, birds, amphibians and mammals, other than dormice, and yet the conclusion was that this land was not worth keeping as a local resource.
Ian Bedwell said Uckfield was being “sold down the Swanee”.
“As soon as there is a minor bump on the bypass or in the town, everything snarls up. We don’t have the capacity to deal with all of these houses.
“This is ridiculous. We have a plan here for 119 more houses. We have built upon all the other open land.
“We don’t want these houses, we have no room for these houses. There isn’t room for all this.
“Please do what you can to ensure we are not stitched up any further.”
Outline planning permission
When town councillors came to discuss the matter, they knew that the scheme already has outline planning permission.
Members were very much in tune with residents’ views, expressed at the meeting and in writing to Wealden District Council, the planning authority.
Town mayor, Cllr Spike Mayhew, brought the committee’s views together, saying:
“None of us sitting round this table want this development, or wanted this development.
“We have listened to the residents.
“It is reserved matters which means we cannot object.
“What I suggest is that we actually object to all the reserved matters on the grounds that we actually object to the development.”
He said the committee should pass on the residents’ views to Wealden.
“I think that is our only option we have got. I think it is the only thing we can do.”
The committee accepted Cllr Mayhew’s proposal.