Proposals for large-scale housebuilding schemes “at and around Uckfield” are nearing.
Developers are talking to officers of the planning authority – Wealden District Council – about their ideas.
East Sussex County Council highways and education officials are also part of the discussions.
It comes at a time when building is continuing on the 1,000 homes development at Ridgewood Farm.
Wealden council’s development management team is “on notice” of the likely submission of the new schemes, Wealden’s portfolio holder for planning and development, Cllr Ann Newton, has said.
However, Cllr Newton did not say exactly which land is being considered.
The council was also expecting an application for a solar powered electric fast-charge forecourt on land west of Uckfield, just off the by-pass, the portfolio holder reported.
For some months, this website has been alerting readers to the possibility of new large-scale housing developments in Uckfield.
Although no specific details are known by this website, we have pointed to land in Uckfield which has previously been the subject of housing development land proposals.
- Bird-in-Eye Hill (north and south);
- Downlands Farm; and
- Sussex Horse Rescue land.
Previously, Bird-in-Eye (north and south), which are in Framfield parish, were rejected largely because of the traffic-choked approach to Uckfield town centre via Framfield Road.
It was suggested at one time that parking in Framfield Road should be controlled to allow freer movement of traffic.
Since then, parking problems in New Town have got worse, although there is a general feeling that the parked cars are a good form of traffic calming and help stop the Bird-in-Eye sites being developed.
Planning permission for Downlands Farm was sought in 2006 for 750 homes but the application was refused and then turned down on appeal.
Near Lake Wood
The site runs from near Lake Wood to Budlett’s, roughly north of Snatts Road.
Opponents of the plan majored on the ecological value of the site.
Plans for the Sussex Horse Rescue were floated in the early part of the last decade. The horse rescue operation’s closure was announced last November.
Access to the land is seen as a major issue, although links could be made to the roads network at a cost.
Local Plan rejected
The pressure to build more housing in the whole of Wealden, including Uckfield, came after the district council’s Local Plan was rejected.
Work on a new Plan is under way but it will include many more new houses than originally proposed.
At the last week’s meeting of Uckfield Town Council, Cllr Paul Sparks – who also sits on Wealden council, said the district council was undertaking a great deal of work on the Local Plan.
He said the council was engaging with neighbouring authorities and wanted to engage as much as they could with local residents and parish/town councils.
“Over the coming months, I think we will find that we have far more involvement with the way that the Local Plan is going to be worked on.
“There are huge issues as far as housing.
“We are looking at 1,231 houses per year [for the whole of Wealden]. Over the plan period that is a total of 17,467 houses,” he said.
Cllr Sparks said that during the Covid-19 lockdown the district’s planning committees were still going ahead remotely and “quite a few” major planning applications have been heard there.
Many of these had been in the Hellingly and Hailsham areas.
An additional pressure is that Wealden does not have a five-year land supply, which it is required to have by central government.
What’s already in the pipeline?
The development of the 1,000 homes at Ridgewood Farm is now well under way
There are also significant plans for housing in Eastbourne Road, Uckfield, and at Blackboys. The applications are yet to be determined.
When it comes to planning, which council does what?
Uckfield Town Council does NOT have the power to grant or refuse any planning permissions whatsoever.
The council is a statutory consultee; meaning the council has to be consulted on any planning applications within its boundary.
It can only pass on advice to the council which grants or refuses planning permission.
Wealden District Council IS the planning authority and either grants permission or refuses.
It is worth knowing an applicant can appeal a refusal to the Planning Inspectorate.
Objectors CANNOT appeal an approval.
Generally, the only recourse for objectors is to embark on what would probably be a long and costly court case which would only consider the council’s procedures – not the rights and wrongs of the application. They can also ask for the Government to “call in” the applications.
For these purposes, East Sussex County Council is a consultee when it comes to planning and can only express views on an application.
The Planning Inspectorate deals with planning appeals, national infrastructure planning applications, examinations of local plans and other planning-related and specialist casework in England and Wales. Read more here [external link]
The Inspectorate can award costs to a developer if they win permission on appeal, and that can run into many thousands of pounds, payable in our case by Wealden council. Read more here