Plans for a Morrisons Local on land next to the Highlands Inn, Ridgewood, were refused by Wealden councillors today (Thursday, October 23).
Members of the planning committee north went against a recommendation of approval from officers.
They were concerned about:
- Retail use in an out of town location.
- The design and appearance of the store and the loss of openness on the site.
- The amount of parking on the site for the store, and around the retained pub. They were not persuaded that there was enough space for the associated manoeuvring and servicing of the store to take place safely or for the two access points. They also objected on highway grounds because the site was close to a busy roundabout.
From our previous report on Thursday, October 16: A report to the committee said the proposal for a convenience store had drawn a high number of objections and Uckfield Town Council recommended permission be refused.
But, it said, the scale of retail development was too small to prejudice the strategic redevelopment of Uckfield town centre and there were no other sites beyond the town centre that could suitably accommodate a local convenience store of this type.
The report said that while the site was within seven kilometres of the Ashdown Forest Special Area of Conservation the development “would not cause likely significant effect” on the forest.
“It is considered that this scheme would not increase demand for recreational use on the Ashdown Forest … The majority of those using the store will do so either as part of a commute, school run or general trip to the town centre.
“It is considered highly unlikely that the store would be used as part of a journey or reason to spend time on the forest.”
Highway issues identified were said to be capable of control through conditions in a planning consent.
The report said there were significant comments that the development should not be permitted since it would cause closure of the post office at Ridgewood.
It adds: “It is not a fact that that the post office would close. Many of those that have written in support of retaining the post office would, presumably, continue to shop there rather than within the store the subject of this application.
“More importantly, however, that issue is a simple one of competition and it is not the role of the planning system to interfere in that market.”
The plans for a store included a reconfigured 64-space car park. Fourteen spaces would have been for the store and 50 for The Highlands pub.
The scheme would have created 20 full-time jobs and the store would have opened from 6am to 11pm, Monday to Saturday with reduced hours on a Sunday in line with Sunday Trading legislation.
The full report to planning committee north can be seen on the Wealden website.
There’s more about objections to the plan, which Uckfield Town Council opposed, in a previous Uckfield News story here: Morrisons Uckfield plan meets storm of objections.
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