The council recommends that only windfall sites, which avoid an adverse impact upon the Ashdown Forest, are considered for the town.
But a rush of such windfall applications is expected once long-awaited Suitable Alternative Natural Green Spaces (SANGS), which mitigate the effects of development on the Ashdown Forest, are identified and when a Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy (SAMMS) is in place for the forest.
A recent application to build 100 homes in Eastbourne Road is for a greenfield site and would not fall into a windfall category, according to Cllr Ann Newton, Wealden cabinet member for planning and development.
Some plans refused because of a lack of SANGS and SAMMS have been resubmitted such as one for April Cottage, a former doctors’ surgery at Buxted, to be returned to residential use, and one for four homes on the site of the former Meads doctors’ surgery in Grange Road, Uckfield.
9,000 additional homes for Hailsham
The bulk of development in Wealden is recommended for the south of the district, and focusses on Hailsham which could double in size. Nine thousand new homes could be built there.
The proposal, in total, is to build 19,950 homes in Wealden from 2013 to 2037 – this figure includes 7,200 already approved and allocated under the current plan.
This means 12,750 homes are proposed in Wealden in addition to the numbers already expected.
Of that total 2,300 are included on behalf of Eastbourne Borough Council which is unable to provide the number of houses it needs.
Even in making this recommendation the council is warning that the approach may not be acceptable in terms of impact upon the Ashdown forest, High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the South Downs National Park.
It says it may be that there is not enough land available or that this proposal is undeliverable. It may also be that infrastructure is not in place, which will mean the strategy needs to be delayed.
The housing numbers allocated for towns to 2037 are as follows:
- Hailsham: 9380 (418 of those are outstanding under current plans)
- Polegate and Willingdon: 1000 (700 outstanding under current plans)
- Stone Cross: 500 (44 outstanding)
- Heathfield: 800 (0 outstanding)
- Uckfield: Windfalls that do not have an adverse impact upon Ashdown Forest Special Area of Conservation (0 outstanding)
- Crowborough: 140 and any windfalls that do not have an adverse impact upon Ashdown Forest SAC (140 outstanding)
- Edge of Tunbridge Wells: 320 (120 outstanding)
Villages recommended for the highest growth include:
- Horam: 400
- Westham: 350
- Wadhurst: 285 (inlcuding 35 granted after April 2015)
- Ninfield: 250 (includes 55 granted after April 2015)
- Herstmonceux: 230 (includes 110 granted after April 2015)
- East Hoathly: 190
- Mayfield: 185
Smaller numbers, ranging from ten to 50, are allocated for other villages including Maresfield (50), Blackboys (20), Cross in Hand (30) and Halland (30).
The Local Plan, which will guide development until 2037, will look at:
- The homes and jobs needed in Wealden,
- Retail, leisure and other commercial development;
- Infrastructure – transport, telecommunications, water supply, flood risk, coastal change management, and energy;
- The provision of health, security, schools, community and cultural infrastructure and other local facilities;
- Climate change mitigation and adaptation, conservation and enhancement of the natural and historic environment, including landscape.
Issues, options and recommendations have been outlined in a document for consultation and a series of exhibitions is planned to give people the chance to examine them, and ask questions of Wealden District Council’s planning officers and councillors, before feeding back their views.
One of the exhibitions is due to take place in the Weald Hall at Uckfield Civic Centre on Tuesday, October 27, from 2pm to 7pm.
Other meetings are to be held in Crowborough, Hailsham, Wadhurst, Heathfield and Polegate. Each of the meetings will look at plans for the whole district and not just the towns they are being held in, so if you can’t make the Uckfield meeting you will be welcome to attend one of the others.
The full list of exhibition venues and dates is:
- Crowborough Community Centre: Thursday, October 22, 1.30-6.30pm
- Uckfield Civic Centre: Tuesday, October 27, 2-7pm
- Hailsham Civic Community Hall: Saturday, October 31, 10am-2pm
- Wadhurst, Uplands Community Centre, Tuesday, November 3, 2-7pm
- Heathfield Youth Centre, Saturday, November 7, 10am-2pm
- Hailsham Civic Community Hall, Friday, November 13, 2-8pm
- Polegate Community Centre, Saturday, November 14, 10am-2pm.
Nigel Hannam, Wealden’s director of environment and community services, said at a press conference yesterday that it was important to encourage responses and get feedback from organisations and members of the community, and from across the community.
Cllr Bob Standley, leader of Wealden District Council, said: “The number of new homes may surprise some but they reflect the need across Wealden, alongside a wider responsibility to help meet the future housing needs of neighbouring authorities.
“With the extended period we have chosen for the new Local Plan we can plan for an era of growth while retaining our highly-prized landscape and environment.
“It is important that with the new housing we also deliver the required infrastructure including healthcare, school places and transport links as well as the employment opportunities.
“We need to have vision to take this opportunity to plan ahead for a brighter future. We need to plan because if we don’t, we will get unplanned development which will not give all the benefits our communities need.”
The issues, options and recommendations for the Local Plan are due to be discussed by the council’s local development framework sub-committee on September 25. Papers for that meeting, including the full issues, options and recommendations document, can be found online here.
The council is working towards having the plan adopted in 2018.
The consultation closes on Monday, November 30.
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