Solar Electric Forecourt plan recommended for approval

A map shared by GRIDSERVE to show where its Solar Electric Forecourt would be located, with access off the Copwood Roundabout on the A22 Uckfield by-pass.

Wealden councillors are being recommended to approve a Solar Electric Forecourt and solar farm off Uckfield by-pass.

Members of the district council’s planning committee north are due to meet next week to consider the planning application.

Uckfield town councillors have objected to the proposal saying it is in the wrong place but Wealden officers say the National Planning Policy Framework makes clear there is a presumption in favour of the sustainable development.

Clean growth

They say “significant weight is afforded to the development of this site, which would directly contribute to the Government Industrial Strategy by promoting clean growth”.

And the officers add: “This recommendation acknowledges that sites to meet business and community needs may have to be found beyond settlement in areas that are not well served by public transport so less weight has been afforded to the location of the site outside of the town and development boundary.

“The proposals have been amended to provide pedestrian and cycle access via a connection to the local footpath network and pedestrian access.

Safety audit

“Those works have been subject of a safety audit and scrutinised by the Highways Authority at East Sussex, who do not object to the proposal. This includes the access and egress to the roundabout.

“The application particulars are clear on the benefits that this development would provide in the changeover to a low carbon energy transport system for the district …”

The report to councillors continues: “The Government agenda is clear on its preference for the electric transport future.  This development would be suitably located on the strategic road network and centrally located in the district.”

Competing uses

The report says it is noted the development would have some competing uses to the town centre, but these had been carefully justified and were needed to support the overall proposals by allowing customers to continue to work or relax while their vehicle was charging.

“This would be akin to the services on offer at other filling stations in the area, such as the McDonald’s and Waitrose shop that is on offer at the petrol filling station 2.5km north on the A22.”

The design of the proposed building is described as “exceptional”.

An impression of what the Solar Electric Forecourt would look like.

Forward-looking

“It would contribute to the modern forward looking nature of this development that will both generate electricity to enable the function of fast charge sites which are currently not on offer within the district due to the nature of the electricity grid in this area.

“The development would enable both local residents and local business, and fleet drivers on the network to transition to electric vehicles.

“Given the sensitivity of the Ashdown Forest to changes in soil, acidity that is a by-product of both petrol and diesel cars, the development would also help to improve the status of this European site.”

Link to full report

Read the full report to the committee about planning application WD/2020/1244/MAJ on the Wealden website. 

The recommendation includes a list of conditions to be attached if the application is approved.

Previous Uckfield News stories about the solar electric forecourt plan:

Solar forecourt ‘would drive wedge into open land’

Decision on Uckfield Solar Electric Forecourt plan is deferred

Uckfield solar forecourt plan meets renewed opposition

Uckfield councillors object to plans for Solar Electric Forecourt

Plans submitted for electric vehicle recharging forecourt

See also:

Uckfield College counselling service ‘deluged’

Wealden Covid-19 deaths in decline

Your chance to contribute to Buy a Banger scheme for NHS

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