Commercial agent Chris Lawson, a partner in Lawson Commercial, supports the principle of development on Downlands Farm, Uckfield, at a time when others are fighting to protect the land.
Chris says: “Downlands Farm is not high grade agricultural land producing food. It is unused woodland with no public access. It’s 167 acres, well able to accommodate 550 houses.”
Read his letter to Uckfield News here:
“When I moved to the Uckfield area 40 years ago, Uckfield wasn’t really much more than just a big village.
“There was no by-pass, there was no Bellbrook Business Park, the Office Village and Falmer Court office developements didn’t exist.
“There was no Tesco, Halfords, or McDonald’s, no Shell petrol station or little Waitrose.
“The town has evolved into an important market town, one of the pre-eminent towns in Wealden. You cannot stop progress. As the planning inspector reported the Wealden area needs to consider taking more housing development.
Downlands Farm is not high grade agricultural land producing food. It is unused woodland with no public access. It’s 167 acres, well able to accommodate 550 houses.
“I was very disappointed that the 2006 application was refused because I thought it was an eminently sensible plan.
“Not only did it include a lot more housing but it provided a community hall, it would have had an extension to the community college, plus a public park, and more importantly from my perspective, over 100,000 sq ft of employment space.
“With all this new housing that is being suggested in the area not a lot of thought seems to be given as to where these people are going to work.
“I would expect that a large proportion of the schemes that have been proposed will probably receive planning consent over the next five years or so, but it is very important that people have somewhere to work.
“The Ashdown Business Park is now basically full, with the last site going under offer on a subject-to-planning basis this week.
“Most of the development that has taken place in the Uckfield area over the last 40 years has taken place to the south, and it seems eminently sensible to have development in the north of the district where the road network is better.
“Easy access to the A22, A26, and A272, must be considered an important factor for not only residents but also for business people.
“The latest screening proposal has a big reduction in housing numbers. There is no reference to any employment space which is disappointing.
“Overall, I think it is a worthy application and if it includes some public access land for people to enjoy the environment which they don’t have the right to do currently, then I think it should be welcomed.
“No doubt the NIMBYs and environmentalists will attack me for my view, what I do for a living, and having a vested interest which I do not.
“I have no connection with Gleeson Homes whatsoever. We are supposed to treasure free speech and sometimes the environmental lobby drown out an alternative view, which I think should be heard from time to time.
“Many of the same arguments were used originally when the Ashdown Business Park was being proposed, and that took nearly 20 years to get where it is today, and I think most people would agree that that has been a terrific success.
“Not only has it brought new businesses to the area such as Premier Inn, Costa Coffee ‘drive-thru’ (the first ‘drive-thru’ in East Sussex), and John Lewis, but it has allowed a number of well respected, local companies to expand including Gunnebo, Jemtech, PGL Group, and Applications Engineering, all providing extra jobs for the benefit of the town and community.
“If the area is to continue to grow, and provide jobs for our residents and youngsters, then we need to see development such as Downlands Farm, and we need more land for employment opportunities as well.”
Read more about proposals for Downlands Farm in previous Uckfield News stories: