Housing growth proportional to the number of homes already in Wealden towns and villages is favoured by Little Horsted Parish Meeting.
This is one of the points made as the parish meeting responds to a consultation about direction of travel for a new Wealden Local Plan.
It says that if, for example, it was determined that Wealden needed 10% more homes, then a parish of 100 homes should, where possible, accommodate ten more.
The meeting also wants to discourage ribbon development along roads to avoid the “intrusive nature” of long frontages. It would prefer “pocket-style” development incorporating such minor infrastructure as necessary, including village shops and nursery schools.
It favours replacing unwanted shops with homes, encourages the building of additional storeys on buildings, and is in favour of barn conversions where the district council could specify the size of homes built in them.
The parish meeting also suggests offering financial help to enable developers to bring derelict homes back into use.
It wants to avoid building on flood plains and asks for allowances to be made to increase them in size.
It also wants effective insulation, treble glazing, solar panels, and heat exchangers, to be taken into account when approving planning for new builds and conversions, and to ensure that such measures are not quietly dropped afterwards.
A synopsis of points made by Little Hosted Parish Meeting says: “The cost of these are comparatively small and diminishing in relation to house costs – this concept should be pushed hard.
“It’s noted, with some resentment, that many larger planning determinations are subsequently (and quietly) changed to mitigate agreed and normally expensive constraints or structural undertakings.
“The ever shrinking low-cost housing on the “Ridgewood” development being a case in point.
“There is absolutely no point in introducing enhanced insulation, power generation etc if they are subsequently, after planning is agreed, then quietly dropped – it makes a mockery of the planning process.”
Little Horsted Parish Meeting says much of the text in the Direction of Travel document is well-meaning, and “difficult to disagree with” but it would be strengthened by defined yardsticks against which progress or success could be measured.
“Emphasis on the protection, enhancement and development of existing communities would make a stronger theme.
“A short summary of the salient points would have been useful, even if done in abbreviated or bullet point fashion – the complete Direction of Travel document will have limited reach.”
Headings in the document include climate change, infrastructure, housing, local economy, town/local centres, tourism and culture, natural environment, landscape, heritage and cultural assets, design, health and well-being, and growth options.
In a detailed response to the housing section Little Horsted Parish Meeting says the document should be more open about conflicting priorities.
“The goal is to house an increasing population in housing stock that meets incomers needs, but also respects the existing local population, existing communities, and the local environment.
“It needs to be clearer about how affordable housing targets will be met and how local sustainable communities will be supported.”
In favouring the proportionate approach relating to the size of existing communities the parish meeting says: “The economic pressures to develop greenfield sites should be weighed against the social, environmental and community benefits of less disruptive smaller developments.”
The parish meeting is concerned about under-delivery of affordable housing and disappointed to see no detail on changes in planning policy to improve the situation.
In relation to town and local centres the parish meeting says shrinkage of the retail core is inevitable and possibilities for increased residential use should be explored.
“This would mean that towns and larger villages could revert to a more ‘Victorian’ identity with homes situated between and above commercial establishments.”
It also wants to see policies that the support the evening economy being emphasised, such as creating space for outdoor tables and seating, ensuring appropriate street lighting and parking.
Horsted Green Park
Little Horsted is the home of Horsted Green Park which was built to attract residents of new Uckfield area estates.
When responding to a section on natural environment the parish meeting says the management of the park has caused concerns with local predictions about traffic access and patterns of use realised, with a claimed sense of wellbeing benefit applying less strongly to local residents than to visitors.
It says much of the natural environment section is aspirational and lacking in detail to critique.
Uckfield response to consultation
In Uckfield, the town council appointed three councillors, Jackie Love, Chris Macve and Angie Smith, to work with the town clerk to compile the town council’s response.
The decision to form the group was taken at a meeting of the full council on December 7.
The deadline for the response was yesterday, Monday, January 18, and we expect to be able to bring you the details of the town council’s views tomorrow (January 20).