Planners have presented a “vision” of how Uckfield could develop over the next ten years.
More shops are envisaged to ensure the town’s retail sector reaches its full potential and provides an “essential range of services and facilities required, in an attractive environment that is easily accessible”.
It is regarded by the planners at Wealden as a “successful town” and should aim for an upmarket feel. Read more on the future of shopping in Uckfield here (another link is provided at the end of this story for your convenience).
The newly-published draft plan – which, if councillors approve – will go out to consultation – shows no new allocation of houses for Uckfield, beyond those agreed for 1,000 homes at Ridgewood Farm and at other known sites.
Development boundaries around Uckfield
It also spells out the town’s proposed development boundaries.
The report, which forms part of Wealden District Council Draft Plan Submission Document, says the 1,000 dwellings and other development commitments will be built out, and in accordance with the overall strategy.
“Having said this, a development boundary has been identified for Uckfield, which, subject to Ashdown Forest…policies may allow for suitable growth and change to take place within the time frame of this Plan,” planners state.
The development boundary for Uckfield seeks to conserve the rural setting of the town and prevent outward encroachment of development into the surrounding countryside. The development boundary follows existing development, includes current housing and industrial commitments.
To the north
In the northern part of the town, the development boundary follows Snatts Road and the edge of Manor Park but excludes land and buildings beyond where there is a distinct change to a more rural character, emphasised by Views Wood, Paygate Wood and other areas of attractive woodland which are prominent in the landscape.
Land beyond properties at Ringles Cross is excluded to prevent outward expansion between Uckfield and the villages of Maresfield and Five Ash Down.
To the east
Along the eastern edge of the town, the development boundary follows the curtilages of existing properties and includes the committed housing sites south of Hempstead Road and at Harlands Farm, together with the community hospital.
However, land within the floodplain of the River Uck and Framfield Stream, the wider areas of farmland and woodland to the east, and the small ribbon of properties along Bird-in-Eye Hill have been excluded to prevent an outward encroachment of development into an essentially rural landscape.
To the south
To the south, in the Ridgewood area, New Road marks a notable change in character between the relatively compact built-up area and the more rural character created by the wooded grounds of Ridgewood House, the recreation ground, allotment gardens and countryside beyond.
For these reasons the development boundary follows New Road, includes the business area, but excludes adjoining land where it is considered that new development would be intrusive on the landscape and detrimental to its rural character.
To the west
Along the western edge of the town the development boundary generally follows the edge of the built-up area. To the south of Bell Farm Road, the development boundary follows the edge of Bellbrook Business Area and is drawn to the A22 bypass southwards to the Little Horsted roundabout.
There is a commitment for an urban extension here on Ridgewood Farm and adjoining land parcels and as such the boundary is drawn to incorporate this land. To the north of Bell Farm Road, the development boundary includes Rocks Park but excludes the public parkland further west and the buildings and grounds of Buckswood Grange, where the mature tree cover creates a distinctly rural character on the fringe of the town.
Further north, areas of mature woodland are prominent features in the landscape and have therefore been excluded from the development boundary.
What happens next?
Wealden District Councillors will discuss the proposals at meetings of the Local Plan Sub-Committee, as well as a joint meeting of the North and South Planning Committees, on Monday, March 13. It will then be submitted for approval at the meeting of Wealden’s full council on March 22.
If it is approved at full council, consultation on the Draft Proposed Submission for the Wealden Local Plan will run from May 8 to June 19, allowing time beforehand to read and absorb the proposals. Copies of the draft plan will be available to download from the Wealden District Council website.
Cllr Ann Newton, Cabinet member for Planning and Development at Wealden District Council, said: “This stage of the Local Plan process reflects the feedback from the Issues, Options and Recommendations document as well as results from a variety of scientific studies Wealden District Council has commissioned.
“Whilst encouraging growth for the housing need, the Plan has to take account of the sensitive environmental issues across the District, particularly Ashdown Forest. This new model allows for a better balance of employment and housing growth whilst protecting Ashdown Forest and the wider Wealden countryside.
“The delivery of infrastructure to accompany any housing remains at the core of the Local Plan strategy and the Council meets regularly with infrastructure providers.”