Council disappointed as appeals are allowed

Two appeals for 900 new homes in the Wealden area have been allowed by a government Planning Inspector.


Wealden District Council members refused planning permission for Mornings Mill Farm in Willingdon and 200 homes on land west of Station Road in Hailsham.


The developers appealed against the decisions of the Planning Committee but in two decisions announced this week, inspectors allowed them to go ahead because the council was unable to defend some of its original objections as they had no basis, and would be unlikely to succeed with the authority facing large financial costs.


The application on land west of Station Road is for 200 homes and that was refused by Wealden councillors on highways grounds.


The second is an application to build 700 homes, a new medical centre, school and community centre at Mornings Mill Farm, Eastbourne Road, Lower Willingdon. That was also turned down by the planning committee on highways and transport issues, together with criticism about location of the site and effects of development drainage.


After extensive legal advice, the council withdrew its objections to both applications and did not make representations during the appeals.


Leader of the council Councillor Ann Newton, who is also the portfolio holder for Planning, said members had done all they could to stop both the development at Mornings Mill Farm and land west of Station Road, Hailsham, and the inspectors’ decisions were disappointing.


Councillor Newton said, “As councillors we listened to the residents’ views and voted with our hearts. We believed it was the right thing to do to turn down the applications and maintained our positions on both until we reached the end of the democratic process, when we were told that our defence of both appeals was indefensible. We tried but unfortunately we failed.


“We are disappointed with the Planning Inspectors’ decisions to allow these two developments to go ahead. However, as we reflect on the detail, we understand that they are consistent with government policy and this will only serve to redouble our efforts to lobby government to change national policy, to increase investment in infrastructure and most importantly reduce housing targets for our beautiful district.”