Villagers are objecting to a proposal to discharge a planning commitment which prevents the fragmentation of the Hesmonds Stud landholding in East Hoathly.
A Section 106 agreement was made between Wealden Council and the stud owners in 2011 when permission was given for the replacement of some stud buildings, structures and facilities.
But now it is being argued that including all 271 hectares, more than 669 acres, of stud land in the agreement, was far in excess of 30 hectares “which might reasonably be argued as necessary to support the stud at the levels proposed within that application”.
The proposal to discharge the agreement follows approval, last year, of a planning application to build 205 homes on Hesmonds Stud land in Waldron Road.
More than 70 letters have been received by Wealden Council about the proposal to discharge the agreement, including one from the Village Concerns Action Group which has more than 200 supporters in the community.
The group says that within five years of the agreement, in 2016, an application was submitted to build the 205 homes.
It goes on: “Within hours of the planning committee voting to approve the outline consent for this application in 2020, two more yards have been put forward for housing in the most recent ‘call for sites’ in the Wealden Local Plan SHELAA process, while another has been put up for sale as a working stud farm.
“The bulk of the livestock at the stud has been relocated to France with the clear intention of running down the stud business in East Hoathly.
“It is quite clear that the conditions were imposed on the 2011 planning application precisely to prevent the breaking up of the existing Hesmonds Stud business.
“There was never any suggestion in 2011 that all four yards were not part of an integrated business.
“There was no suggestion that the American yard was superfluous, and was about to be put up for housing development.
“When the Hesmonds application was submitted in 2016, and when it was determined in 2020, there was no suggestion that the stud was about to put Tourles Farm up for sale.
“There is no mention in this current application that the stud business has mostly already been relocated to France and that the owner has offered the remaining two yards for housing development.”
Village Concerns says that if the stud business changes then the land should remain for agricultural use and revert to other forms of farming as it has done for at least the last 400 years.
It says the application seeks to remove conditions to allow completion of “the asset stripping of this once viable and important local business and employer.
“The foreign billionaire owner seeks to maximise his profit to the utter detriment of the local community.”
The group concludes: “We absolutely reject the premise that Hesmonds Stud comprises of four separate business. It is one business being run on a 271 hectares of agricultural land.
“If there is land surplus to the needs of the stud then they should lease/rent it to other farmers, as has been the practise for many decades.”
Full details of the proposal to discharge the 106 agreement can be seen in planning application number WD/2020/2660/PO on the Wealden Council website.
• Read more about the decision to approve 205 homes on land in Waldron Road in a previous Uckfield News story: Councillors make decision on East Hoathly 205 homes plan.
• There’s more information in this story about 173 hectares of Hesmonds Stud land being suggested for development in this Uckfield News story: Uckfield car parks and farmland suggested for development.