Observer: What a way to plan our town – and a railway

Our independent Saturday columnist is back from holiday commenting on the detailed planning application for 250 homes at Ridgewood Farm and goes into deep gloom over the Uckfield rail line.


Why wasn’t I surprised that the first application for 250 homes at Ridgewood Farm has no details on the services and facilities those new residents and the town as a whole will need?

Yes, a quarter of the the 1,000 homes and no news of a shop, doctors’ surgery, school.

It’s what Britain gets from a planning system that is a planning system in only name.

The planning authority can only give permission (or not) for what is in front of it.

Clearly with outline planning permission granted, Wealden District Council can hardly say no. There might be some tinkering around the edges but the substance is what is in the planning application.

Development Corporation

When major developments such as Ridgewood Farm go through, the plan and delivery should take into account many factors, including the types of housing to be built, the services needed and the infrastructure.

A small-scale development corporation would be a good model, with all interested parties having as seat on the Board.

Sadly, the British planning system doesn’t allow for such a common sense approach.

As a result we are all lumbered with a huge strain on the hospital, surgeries, dentists, schools, roads etc.

Of course, those facilities will eventually appear if they are in the master plan for the site.

Wouldn’t it be better if they came at the start, rather than towards the end.

Electrification a non-starter?

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling killed off three railway electrification projects this week – schemes that had seemed nailed on.

As soon as I read the news, I thought ‘no chance then for electrifying the Uckfield Line’.

Only a few weeks ago hopes were up because of the Gibb report but I can’t see the Government finding the limited amount money for rural East Sussex if it is not prepared to do the routes round Leicester, Derby and Sheffield and those on Great Western.

See also:

Two schools join forces to say farewell to executive headteacher

SLM Toyota Uckfield renews sponsorship of Maresfield Dynamos

Manor school parents organise prom for Year 6 leavers

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