Talks are under way about the possibility of building new homes on land owned by the Sussex Horse Rescue Trust in Uckfield.
The Trust would like to relocate and expand and is exploring the development potential of its 70 acres of land off Hempstead Lane.
Terry Bohanna, who is representing the Trust as it seeks to move, said the proposal is to sell the land for a development of around 350/400 homes, including affordable housing.
The concept is for the developer to gain access over East Sussex County Council-owned Hempstead Playing Fields, Nevill Road, and put a bridge over the River Uck on to the Trust land.
East Sussex County Council have confirmed that in principle they would be prepared to sell a small access route over the site but that this would be subject to Wealden District Council as the Planning Authority granting planning consent.
The non-profit making charity would like the Uckfield community to benefit from funds realised in a sale.
Its ideas include:
• Building an upstream flood alleviation and flood storage scheme, costing about £2.5 million, on Trust land, in order to help protect the town from further large scale flooding such as happened in 2000 and resulted in more than £23 million of damage including at that time the Fire Station which became flooded and non-operational.
• Gift-aiding to the local community some 30 to 35 acres at the upper end of the site to create a Country Woodland and Ecology Preservation Park which could be used by families and local schools for generations to come.
• Building a new car park for the Uckfield Rugby Club which would accommodate visitors who currently have to park in nearby roads on the Manor Park Estate.
• Helping towards the funding for an all-weather pitch sought by Uckfield Community Technology College on its site.
• Making a significant contribution toward the Uckfield Town Centre Regeneration Scheme.
Terry Bohanna said the trust needed to relocate as, with expanded residential development over the last 25 years, it was now becoming hemmed in on its site and needed to relocate to a larger site to continue its work as an Animal Sanctuary.
Selling the land to developers would raise the funds needed to enable a move but Wealden Council has advised the Trust that a planning application would be refused on the grounds that the land is not in the Core Strategy for new homes.
“Our only hope in proceeding is to seek local community support for the concept,” said Terry Bohanna.
“Community benefits from a planning application would be considerable and our flood alleviation scheme proposal is in line with the River Ouse Flood Catchment Plan and also conforms, we understand, to Wealden’s own Policy on flooding.
“The Trust has now been advised by the Environment Agency that an upstream flood alleviation and flood storage area to help protect the Town of Uckfield from future flooding – while at the same time creating a new wildlife ecology sanctuary – would be encouraged and supported by the Environment Agency. This, as the development proposal, is part of Government National Policy.
“Many local volunteers have supported the charity over many years and the trustees feel that in return for this support the local community should now benefit from the proceeds of the land sale.
“Development would ensure significant investment in the community as well as helping to protect the town from future flooding and, in addition to providing much needed new homes in the town, it could also create around 100/250 new jobs over the next 5/10 years.”
If you would like to discuss the Trust’s ideas with Terry Bohanna he can be contacted by email at email@example.com.